Location: Carnwennan Station, Hospital
For his part, Cailus had been busy. The USS Emir had brought the family back to Carnwennan within an hour, the Sovereign-class starship’s speed having been enough to overhaul the Section 31 ship and rescue the family. The Emir’s captain had remarked to Cailus how fortunate it was that her ship had been nearby, as few other ships could have caught up in time before the Section 31 ship had gotten out of sensor range. Cailus, knowing better, just quietly thanked the captain without saying anything else.
Upon arriving at Carnwennan, however, that all changed. Even though the family were all confined to a ward in the starbase’s large hospital, Cailus was a whirl of activity on the comms, demanding a series of enhanced security measures to protect Shae and the children. The starbase’s security chief ignored him at first, since Cailus and Shae were still under arrest. Nevertheless, that only lasted until Cailus drafted a rapid and scathing report on the security officers of Carnwennan, CCed to Admiral Milne, the head of Starfleet Security, the Judge Advocate General, the office of the Federation Councillor for Mars...and, when that didn’t work, the Federation News Network office on Trill.
The threat of notifying the last recipient finally did the trick, and within minutes, the Brennan-Griffins became some of the most heavily protected people within a hundred lightyears. Finally satisfied, Cailus settled in with Eva and Eoin, both children recovering well from their abduction. Only after they were both asleep did he go to the next room, where Shae lay, The nurses proved somewhat more resilient than the starbase’s security chief had been, but eventually they let him in with a stern warning to “avoid stress”.
Shae was feeling much better once her phaser burns were no longer raw, open wounds, although her chest cavity kept filling up with fluid, so she would have to remain under medical care until the tube in her chest stopped dripping and she was no longer under threat of her lung collapsing. And so she lay on the biobed, facedown because the bruise on the other side was too tender for her to lay on her back, waiting for Cailus to get back from checking on the kids so they could talk.
“Shae?” Cailus said quietly as he slipped into the room. They were quite alone, the window providing a spectacular view of the expansive internal docking bay, another window on the other side of the room letting them see the dozing children. Cailus looked over Shae as he moved up beside her, wincing at what he saw.
"Don't worry, it looks worse than it really is," Shae tried to assure him, but it was still pretty bad. She shuffled on the bed, adjusting her pillow so she could turn and look at her husband. "How are the kids?"
“Better than we are,” Cailus said wryly as he grabbed a chair and sat down next to the bed. “They slept through the whole thing. Eva knows something happened, but she doesn’t know what it was.” He sighed as he looked again at Shae’s wounds, exposed as she was while lying on the front. “How are you doing?”
"I might need a couple of days before I'm up and about, but I'm alright," Shae replied. "I must look awful, I've scared off a couple of nurses."
Cailus grinned despite himself, “You look as beautiful as ever. Well, your ass looks as beautiful as ever. They’re probably just intimidated by it.”
Shae chuckled briefly, then winced. "So..." she started, feeling awkward about what she was going to bring up. "You've seen what I've tried to so hard to hide, the monster in me."
“Monster,” Cailus repeated, rolling the word around his head. He considered Shae, leaning forward in his chair. “This really bothers you, doesn’t it?”
"Yes..." Shae answered quietly. "Doesn't it bother you? What I became, what I did?"
The room’s silence surrounded the spouses. Cailus considered for a long moment, giving Shae’s question serious thought. “I know you’re a shapeshifter, Shae,” he said slowly. “Hell, I once saw you shift into me, and that was a damn sight weirder than whatever you turned into back there. You might have been bigger, furrier, your claws might have been sharper, but I still saw you. Why do you think I wouldn’t?”
"I- I don't know," Shae replied. "I've spent my whole life repeating to myself that I'm not a wild animal, but that part of me has always been so feral, I never really knew how to control it when it takes over."
“I know,” Cailus said simply. He sighed, running a hand over his face. “Have you transformed like that before?”
"No," Shae said with a slight shake of her head. "Not until we rescued Eva, but I've always felt it under the surface."
Cailus nodded, his demeanour serious. “I can’t tell you how to handle this,” he said gently, “but I’m here, all the way. I’m with you. You can go as wild as you like, Shae. It won’t change a thing as far as I’m concerned. Hunting those weird animals in the holodeck, watching those weird 21st century shows, working on weird mathematics, dressing up in that suit with that weird bow tie...” Cailus paused, frowning. “Actually, you looked pretty good in that suit.”
Shae allowed herself one more small laugh before the pain once again stopped her. "Thank you, Dearheart, I feel much better about that," she said, then her smile faded. "I guess the next crisis we have to deal with is what to say when everyone starts asking questions. My first instinct was to do or say whatever would get us the information he wanted, but I, for one, am tired of the lies and duplicity and for once I want the truth to win."
“The next time I see that man, he’ll either end up in a cell or in a coffin,” Cailus vowed, his voice suddenly becoming bitter and cold. He took a moment to calm himself, glancing down at the floor before looking back at Shae. “We can tell the truth,” he said. “I’m more inclined to trust Milne than that slimy bastard anyway. Nyx trusts her, and she’s been straight with us so far.”
"Aye, she's been fair and reasonable," Shae agreed. "So the truth it is, and that includes the deal that bastard made for our freedom, and we'll find a way to secure our freedom on our own."
Cailus smiled, reaching out to gently rub Shae’s shoulder. “Agreed. One way or another, we’ll make it happen.” He paused then as a thought occurred to him, and a shadow fell across Cailus’s face as he pulled his hand back. “If they push us, if they force us, I know a way to push back against these bastards. They’re obsessed with you and Eva, so much that they’re ignoring me. They don’t know me...hell, Shae, even you don’t know everything. It’s classified to hell and back, but I can use it. If we need to.”
"I knew it, just knew it!" Shae said with a big grin. "When I read your journal in the Bubble, I had a feeling it was a bit light, and I could never shake the feeling you were holding out on me," she said with amusement, clearly not bothered at all by what he might have left out. "I'm willing to use my secrets too. I'm tired of keeping them, and if they help free us of S31's influence, then all the better." she added in a more serious tone. Then she crooked her finger to gesture for him to get closer so she could kiss him, which she did with a small smile. "I love you."
Never one to refuse a kiss, Cailus leaned in to gently kiss Shae, smiling as he did it. As he pulled back, he whispered, “I love you too...but when the kids grow up and start asking about their ‘wild’ side, that’s all yours.”
"Fair enough," Shae replied as she relaxed into her pillow to rest.