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    It's my Pity Party and I'll cry if I want to...

    Posted on Wednesday 27 February 2019 @ 02:43 by

    "Lying in my bed I hear the clock ticking and think of you. Caught up in circles, Confusion is nothing new
    Flash back, warm nights, Almost left behind. Suitcase of memories... "
    Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time"

    Stephanie was currently relieved of active duty. She stepped into her quarters for the first time in what seemed like forever. She looked around at the walls, and started to wonder why she had unpacked. Her first mission aboard a starship, and she had fouled it up so bad that she was sure it would be her last. She stripped off her uniform and opened her drawer. She pulled out a pair of denim shorts and put them on. In the back pocket,she found a battered and dogeared photo. A much younger Stephanie stood next to her brother and their parents stood behind them.

    "Everyone pays th' price for my feck ups," she scowled. "Go big or go home." She said sarcastically as she put the picture back in the drawer. She then opened the next drawer down and fished around until she came up with something in each hand. In her left hand was a black tank top with the name and registry number of the ship. In her right, a small stoppered bottle. She pulled the stopper with her teeth and drained it's contents. She tossed the bottle over her shoulder and sighed as she pulled on the shirt. She moved over to her footlocker where she pulled out a much larger bottle. She looked at it thoughtfully, , raised an eyebrow, dropped the bottle back in the locker it came from and then did an about face, left her quarters and headed straight for the Turbolift.

    "Deck Four."

    She exited the lift and made a bee-line straight to Holodeck 3. "Computer, Run program: Stephanie-Papa-Uniform-Bravo"

    A few silent moments passed before the computer responded. "Program complete. You may enter when ready."

    O'Hara walked through the door and found herself in a building that could have been anywhere on Earth. It was an Irish pub she had visited in Boston once. She had really liked it so she turned it into a holo-program... She hadn't asked the owner. The Rolling Stones were blaring from the speakers mounted to the walls at what most sane people would consider an unacceptable volume.

    "War, children, it's just a shot away"

    The bartender was a shorter woman with hair, skin and eyes all shades of deep milk chocolate. She was beautiful. She was wearing a short, pleated red plaid skirt, a half-tee , white knee socks and canvas sneakers.

    The bartender brightened visibly when she saw Stephanie.

    O'Hara's breath caught in her throat. She hadn't seen the face in a long time. She missed that face. She could never see the real thing again. This woman was another victim of O'Hara's good intentions. She hadn't been nearly as lucky as the crew of the Merlin. The original had been dead for three years. "Sarah," It's been postulated that a person will tell their bartender things they won't tell their doctor. Stephanie had hers on Isoliner chip. Stephanie had spent months on this matrix. Sarah knew she was a hologram. Stephanie had done this on purpose. It was easier to remember that this Sarah was a hologram if she knew it too.

    "Come sit down, beautiful," The hologram said. "What can I get ya?"

    Stephanie walked to the end of the bar and took a seat on the barstool at the ened of the bar. "Jameson. Leave th' bottle."

    "I know that look, Miss Thing. Tell me what's wrong."

    "Can we na talk about it?," Steph asked as the bottle and two shot glasses were deposited on the bar in front of her. "It's a very long story. I wanna drink 'til I forget it.." She thought about it for a second. "Computer, Download recent ships logs to bartender holomatrix."

    "There was a few moments pause, then Sarah looked at O'Hara and reached across the bar and put her hand on the redhead's shoulder. "Oh, baby, I'm so sorry."

    O'Hara shook her off.

    "That's not good," Sarah grimaced. "I'll call for the Karaoke stage for you. I know it makes you feel better."

    "I don' wanna feel better I.," Stephanie locked eyes with the Hologram. "I don' deserve t' feel better. I wanna wander th' streets at two in th' morn' lookin' f'r a fight with a Naussican twice m' size."

    "I feel bad for the Naussican," Sarah giggled. She slid a full shot glass.across the bar at O'Hara and picked one up for herself.

    "You should," Stephanie said matter of factly. She then picked up the shot and said "Sláinte!" And downed it. She immediately reached for the bottle, filled the shot glass and repeated this sequence.

    Sarah rolled her eyes. "Look, Miss Thing," Sarah, the real one, had always called her that. It was as much a term of endearment as it was an admonishment. "I know you're not in the best head space right now but maybe, like, oh, I dunno, pace yourself?"

    "It's na a 'pace yerself' kinda night, lass." O'Hara said as she reached for the bottle again, but Sarah snatched it away.

    "Didn't you program me to be the angel on your shoulder? You drink here instead of with the rest of the crew because you needed me to save you from yourself."

    "Na tonight," Stephanie grabbed the bottle back and poured another shot, then picked up the glass and stared through the amber liquid. "Th'' devil's th' driver's seat an' there he stays... I don' need an angel. "

    "Stephanie, you know i can't encourage you to be self-destructive. I see the road you're headed down. There's nothing but more pain there for you, for everyone you care about... Punishing yourself won't accomplish anything. It will only hurt everyone. But the thing that I find most incomprehensible is that you see it too. and you're acting like it's your responsibility to walk into damnation." Sarah put her hands on her hips. "If you didn't need an angel, then why am I here? You could have had Orion Slave Women giving you a sponge bath in a tub of whiskey."

    Stephanie took the shot and set the shot glass back on the bar. She made a face and began to pour another shot. Sarah snatched the bottle and put it on a shelf behind the bar.

    "Why am I here, Stephanie?"

    "Because I still haven't forgiven m'self f'r what happened t' ya. Because everyone in my orbit get's hurt because of me." O'Hara covered her face. When she looked up, fresh tears were rolling down her cheeks. "Because, Sarah, I needed t' see yer kind, sweet, beautiful face once more before th' end."

    Sarah stared at Stephanie in simulated horror. "You can't be serious," she said flatly. "How the Hell will that solve anything?"

    "Sarah, I can' keep doin' this. Everything I touch turns t' shite. Everyone I care about gets hurt because o' me. If chaos was lightning, I'd be standin' on a hill, soakin' wet, an' holdin' a copper rod. No one else need be hurt because of me. May I have my bottle back?"

    Understanding dawned on Sarah's face. "I'm here because you need me to talk you down from the ledge."

    Stephanie grimaced. "No yer na."

    "Yep. And you don't want to talk to the councilor, because you don't want everyone to see that you actually do have emotions. So you called up the image of the only woman you could never truly say no to."

    "Why'd I make ya so annoyingly like th' original?" Stephanie asked. "I didn't much care f'r her dime store psychoanalysis either."

    "Maybe because my primary function is to save you from yourself... And if you think the 'dime store psychoanalysis', as you call it, is annoying it's because I'm usually right."

    "No," Stephanie repeated. "Yer na. An' I'm still far too sober t' debate th' topic." She made a beckoning gesture. "Th' bottle if ya please?"

    Sarah set the bottle back on the shelf and crossed her arms. "No," She said firmly.

    Stephanie sighed and stood up. "Why'm I doin' this to myself? Computer, end program."

    She walked directly to the Turbolift and ordered it to main Engineering.


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