With this thought foremost in my mind, I rose early, showered and dressed, deciding upon my schedule for the day as I went. I was going to grab a croissant and a cuppa in the Academy cafeteria before my first lecture, then I had two exams, a short lunch followed by a third test and then the rest of the day was my own. I resolved that it was then that I'd contact Peter. Farrah might not be around, but let's be honest, that didn't really matter. I was at a very low ebb yesterday, but I'm a grown woman after all and a Starfleet crewman with combat experience to boot, so I should be able to handle an ill-tempered entertainer.
Ready to begin the day, I stuffed my hair into a quick bun, grabbed my bag and opened the door, but skidded to a halt.
"Oh!" I cried in surprise.
Lizzy was standing at the door, frozen to the spot, her mouth slightly open and her arms splayed out as though someone had pressed the pause button on her mid-sentence.
"Oh," she echoed, equally surprised. "Um ..." she began, "I ... er ... I ... um ..."
She was very uncomfortable.
"Can I come in?" she finally asked.
"It's still your room," and I stepped off to one side.
"I don't think it ever was my room," she said. "I just kept my stuff here."
"Talking of which ..." and I swept my arm over the room to indicate the boxes. "Some of the other cadets saved your things. Firth was going to destroy them and—"
Lizzy's face lit up with joy.
"My shoes!" she cried, spying a stiletto poking out of one of the boxes. She ran forward and swept it up, but her mood soon dulled. She dropped onto the bed, picking at the heel of the shoe, thinking for a moment.
"You know," she began, "I can never forgive you for what you did—"
"Forgive me?" I interrupted. My voice was calm but I could feel the colour rising in my cheeks. Once upon a time, I would have squealed that out angrily, but my Starfleet training was starting to effect my comportment.
"I think you and I ought to get a couple of things straight before we assume I'm seeking your forgiveness. I did not set out to spend my time here sorting out your life. I came here to fulfil the next stage of my Academy education. As it is, I've not been able to study as much as I should have done because I've been sorting out your problems, and that doesn't just affect me. If I fail this course, two other people automatically fail with me, so let's just hope your shenanigans haven't foiled the careers of three would-be Starfleet officers. I know you don't want to be in Starfleet and that's just as well, because trust me, young lady—" Good grief! Did I really just say that? "—you'd never cut it. To make the grade, you have to be able to work both independently and as part of a team. You are more than capable of working independently—you've shown that by securing your singing career, but as a team?" I shook my head at her. "You have never made any effort to be part of a team or to make friends. You've not joined any study groups, you've refused to turn up to lectures and you have spurned everything that the Academy has offered you."
"I never wanted to be at the Academy!" she hissed.
"I know that. We all know that, but it was still an opportunity that many would have given their eye-teeth for. As it was, you threw it away and in a very silly and childish manner if I might say so. Not that you would know any better. Why? Because you are a child. You may know more than us with your extensive databanks, but you know nothing of social skills and have made no effort at all to develop them during your time here. That makes you a child, and while Peter may find your naivety charming, I do not."
"What opportunity have I ever had to develop my social skills?" Lizzy blurted out indignantly. "I've been trying to live what short life I had!"
"The life you have, you chose. You made a conscious decision to spurn the companionship of the other students. Did you ever try to talk to any of the other cadets?"
"I didn't know anyone. They made me feel awkward," she scowled.
"How did they make you feel awkward?"
"They all chatted and laughed together. Nobody wanted to talk to me!"
"They didn't know you, and you gave them no opportunity to let them. You have distanced yourself from people by every means you could think of. You even lived in squalor to ensure that others didn't want to get close to you. My goodness, girl, you may be an android but if ever anybody needed counselling, you do."
I sighed heavily and sat down on the bed opposite her.
"Children master adulthood through their childhood. Through life, people form relationships and these are so important. Friends, and family if you have them, become your support network—a collection of people that are there for each other; that help each other through the good times and the bad. But unless you share your time with other people, you cannot develop any of that. You have only formed one proper relationship and that is with Peter, and that was only because he was so persistent."
Lizzy flicked her head haughtily.
"That's all very easy for you to say. You've had your support network since the day you were born—"
"No, I haven't. I'm an orphan." Lizzy's mouth gaped open to say something, but I didn't pause. "I've never had any family to support me, and as an orphan, I've been shipped from one home to another, each time having to start afresh from zero. So if anybody knows how hard it is to make new friends, it's me. I hate those situations—when you enter a room and everybody else seems to know each other and I'm the odd man out, but I don't run away. There's nothing to be gained by that. I get in there and say hello to a few people. I hate doing it. I feel awkward but it always pays off." I sighed heavily and silence fell.
"I didn't know that," said Lizzy softly.
"Of course you didn't because despite sharing a room with me, you never made the effort." I laughed weakly. "I don't think we've spent as much as a couple of hours in each others company in total. You said we would chat but never got around to it. If we had, maybe you'd have a friend sitting here instead of me. At the trial, you said you thought I was your friend. No, Lizzy. I was never your friend. I don't know you well enough to be your friend."
"Then why did you do it? Fight for me, I mean?"
"Because what Firth was doing was wrong and in the words of Edmund Burke, 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'. Well, I'm not doing nothing. I'm standing up for your rights, and I'm sorry if you got hurt along the way, but if I hadn't done it, you'd be particles in a replicator by now, waiting to be somebody's next duvet or whatever. And that's another reason why you'd never make it through the Academy. Sometimes you have to do things because it is the right thing to do, not because it's the nice thing to do."
Time was getting on and I was very conscious of it.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lecture to attend and three examinations today, and I intend to pass them all. If you wish to continue this conversation, come back tonight."
"I can't. I'm singing."
"Of course you are. That's why you've come now—at a time that is convenient to you and never mind if it puts me out. If you want to talk again, I don't mind, but I'm leaving next week and I've got a bucket of work to do. In the meantime, feel free to take your time taking your stuff out. I'd appreciate it, though, if you could dispose of anything you don't want yourself, rather than leaving it for me to take care of. I wish you well—I honestly do wish you well, and I am sure that one day, with a little time and practise, you will find friendship as well as love. Maybe then you'll think differently about these events. In the meantime, please don't expect me to feel guilty about what I did because I don't. I did what I had to do to get the job done. I didn't like doing it, but it was the only way I could see."
I picked up my bag and went to the door. It shushed open but I turned back to Lizzy for one last word. "And what was with the rotting pizza in the wardrobe. You don't even eat pizza for goodness sake!" And then I left.