Gun Brooke MirAndy/J7 Fanfiction Advent Calendar

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Below the Surface


Door 4  


Annika walked out into the reception area, feeling drained and much more tired after this first session with Miranda than after climbing the ten flights of stairs earlier. This had not been a true session, according to Miranda, but an initial exchange of information. Now she stood in front of the assistant’s desk, gripping her messenger bag with nervous fingers. How she hated feeling this jittery.

The assistant rounded the corner and smiled in a friendly and professional manner when she saw Annika standing there.

“Hello again, Ms. Hansen. I never got a chance to introduce myself earlier. I’m Andy.” She extended her hand and Annika shook it.

“Please. Call me Annika.”

“Of course. Now, let’s see what Miranda has planned.” Andy tapped in a few commands on her computer. “Four sessions, every other day. No problem. Any particular time during the day that suits you better?”

“No. Any time will be fine.” Finding it hard to get the words out since she really didn’t want this, or rather didn’t want to need therapy, Annika watched as Andy took a paper from the printer under the counter.

“Here you go. They’re all just after lunch.”

“Thank you.” Annika didn’t even glance at the paper, but shoved it into her bag before donning her coat.

“If you can’t make it, there’s a number on there you can either call or text any time.” Andy rounded the desk. “Please don’t think me too forward, but I have to ask you something.”

Going rigid, Annika steeled herself for what might come. “Yes?”

“That messenger bag. It’s amazing. Any chance you remember where you bought it? I’m looking for a present for my friend Lily who loves that style.”

Relaxing so quickly, it almost made her dizzy, Annika had to smile. There was something disarming about the warm friendliness radiating from her broad smile and soft, brown eyes. “I bought it at Gear Patrol®. I think it was about 65 dollars.”

“Oh, great. I was worried you’d bout it at one of those shops that nearly take admission at the door, their stuff’s so expensive.” Andy returned Annika’s smile. “Well, take care until two days from now, Annika.”

“You too.” Feeling more settled after the brief small talk, which baffled Annika since that was normally not her thing, she nodded and headed for the door. As she walked down the ten flights of stairs, she sighed inwardly. She was going to get some intense workout going up and down them four times in eight days. Five, counting today, she corrected herself.

As she stepped out on the sidewalk, her cellphone chimed from inside her bag. Checking the display, she saw it was her boss. Instantly, Annika’s abdominal muscles contracted and for a moment, she thought about ignoring the call. But of course she wouldn’t. “Hello, Kathryn,” she said after accepting the call.

“Annika! I’ve been trying to reach you for an hour. Was your phone on mute?” Kathryn Janeway, captain of the science vessel Voyager and renowned scientist and explorer spoke in her usual dynamic, albeit friendly, way. “Anyway. I was wondering if you can make it to New Zealand four days earlier? Harry checked the flights and it looks like—”

“No. I can’t.” Annika’s mouth was now so dry, she could hear herself sounding almost slurry. She could barely make to Deep Water Cove in the stipulated eight days. Even if she did, there was a risk she may not be able to dive. Tears stung behind her eyelids and Annika blinked rapidly. “I’m sorry.”

“Wait. Is everything all right? Has something happened?” Kathryn was clearly concerned now and it surprised Annika at how stressed her boss sounded. “You okay, Nikki?”

Blinking at how the unsuspected nickname rolled off Kathryn’s lips with such ease, Annika stepped aside and stood still by a window to a shoe store. “I’m okay. I promise. It’s just that I have things I’ve got to do before I join you. If you need to start making dives to prep for the cave-diving, Icheb knows that procedure as well as I do.”

“All right.” Kathryn sounded unconvinced and not thrilled at all about Annika’s suggestion. “I know Icheb is your protégé when it comes to all things diving, but I won’t let him go down with the team on his own. He’s very young still.”

The idea of Kathryn diving without Annika there to supervise, made her stomach churn. Icheb was skilled enough. And yes, Kathryn was a good diver with a lot of experience. Annika shouldn’t be all stressed out about her boss doing her job. But she was. Praying she wouldn’t have another panic attack, Annika pinched the skin between her thumb and forefinger on her left hand. Slowly, her breathing began to calm down.

“Please, let Icheb take the lead. The experience will be valuable for him.” Annika hoped she sounded professional.

“I will.” Kathryn paused and Annika waited as the seconds ticked by. “It will be nice when you do get here,” Kathryn said in a low voice. “I miss…I mean, Voyager isn’t the same without you here.” She cleared her throat, perhaps embarrassed at the personal words.

“I miss being aboard also.” It was true. Working from Voyager was her dream job. Being around Kathryn on a daily basis was equal parts wonderful and bittersweet. “I will call you before I leave New York.” Biting her lower lip at her inadvertent slip, Annika cursed inwardly.

“New York? You’re in New York? I thought you were at your aunt’s house in Minneapolis.”

“I’ll tell you all about my New York adventure when I get to Deep Water Cove.”

“All right. I’ll hold you to it.” Kathryn seemed reluctant to hang up. “Be safe until you get here. That’s an order.”

“Aye, Captain.” Annika pressed the red symbol and disconnected the call. She would have to tell Kathryn at one point or other what was happening to her. She hated the idea of it with a passion.

Door 5 will open on Dec 5, 2016