This was going to be a two iced coffee problem. By the time the replicator finished whizzing his cold drink into existence, Ensign Elegy Weld hadn’t moved a millimetre since the time he ordered the drink from the computer. He was still slumped against the side of a sofa; awake, but in repose. With his shaved head cradled in his hands, Weld massaged his temples using the heels of his palms. He pressed circles against his flesh –right into the patterns of spots in his skin– as if that might force him to forget the story in his head.
As a newly-minted Starfleet Counselor, Ensign Weld had anticipated most of his patients being Starfleet personnel. Starfleeters were the best and the brightest of the Federation, carefully trained to prepare for loss and disaster in space. Weld had grown up in a community of nothing but Starfleeters. And yet on this day, his last two patients had been people. Ordinary, grieving people. People who had been evacuated from their lives in the wake of the Century Storm. Because of the ion storms going buck wild across the Paulson Nebula, Weld’s patients had mostly been victims of the storms, brought to Starbase Bravo for survival.
Running away from the visions of dead dads dancing through his head, Elegy stood up from the sofa. He took hold of his coffee from the replicator plate and he crossed the office to one of the dramatic arm chairs. Changing locations, changing perspectives, Weld scrambled to re-set his own brain before his next patient arrived. Seating himself in the arm chair, he breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth. Sipping at his coffee, he stared at the closed door, mentally preparing himself for whomever would walk through next.
Neva trudged slowly towards her destination, head down & fists at her sides. Her mother had vowed to move into Neva’s quarters for the rest of her tour on SB-4 if Neva didn’t go to this “appointment.” No amount of bargaining, pleading, or outright begging could change her mother’s mind on this. Neva groaned softly, but kept walking.
The last time she went to a “Counselor,” she found a cranky Scotsman inside who barely looked up from his desk. He shoved a plastic humanoid toy in her face & growled out “Show me on th’ doll where th’ Bad Man touched ye, cry a bit, an’ go back t’ werk!” Any wonder she mistrusted the psychiatric field?
When she got to the door THIS time, she sighed hard. “I don’t want my mother to live with me…I don’t want my mother to live with me…” Neva frowned, “Maybe if I say it enough, I’ll believe it!”
Inside the office, Ensign Weld reacted to the door chime by jumping to his feet. He left his glass on an end table, and then discovered he didn’t know what to do with his hands while standing there, waiting. Clasping them together a bit awkwardly, Weld said, “Come in,” and the computer unlocked the door with a telltale chirp.
Neva walked through the door then stopped. She looked around, confused. No desk? No bland colors on the walls? It felt…inviting??
“Uh…hi?” She murmured softly before snapping to attention. “Cadet Cordon reporting…uh…uh…asmymothermademe…”
Contrary to Neva’s stiff posture and reference to reporting, Weld grinned at her with his whole face. He stood informally, with his weight shifted onto one hip more than the other. “Good morning, Cadet Cordon. My name is Doctor Elegy Weld. You can call me Elegy,” he said to drop ranks between them. “I began my assignment to Starbase Bravo about a week ago, to start my psychiatric residency. Honestly, I arrived as a hospital patient, when the transport ship was nearly destroyed by the Century Storm. Today, I’ll be your counselor.” Lowering himself into the arm chair, Elegy swept a hand to indicate the office at large. “Make yourself comfortable, Cordon,” he said; “You can sit, or pace, anywhere you like.”
Neva nodded, sinking into the seat closest to the door. She looked down at her lap, finding her hands still in fists. She unfolded them & wiped the palms on her thighs. Nevada closed her eyes a moment then opened them.
“If you’re being informal with names, I guess I’ll return the favor.” Her tone was soft, full of trepidation. “I’m Nevanthi Cordon. Some call me Neva”.
Sighing hard again, she continued. Neva’s voice became a little louder .”Just so you know, Elegy, I don’t like doctors or counselors. Being half Betazoid, I’m supposed to be…” Neva dropped her head , cheeks coloring red. “Able to do certain ‘things.’” Neva thrust her chin up, eyes holding g a touch of anger. “I DON’T. Telepathy HURTS me. So you can just…” her eyes held pools of ready to shed tears & stopped speaking.
Neva sighed shakily & looked away.
Taking a sip of his coffee, Elegy didn’t say anything at first. He nodded slightly –the movement was hardly perceptible– and he kept his mouth shut. He allowed silence to hang in the air between them, giving Neva space to feel everything she was feeling. Only when her breathing looked more regular did Elegy say, “I’d like you to finish your sentence.” His voice was perfectly even, neither offended nor overly sympathetic. “What do you need from me, as a doctor and a counselor?” he asked.
Neva regarded Elegy cautiously. “So you can just…see me as just another human.” She said quickly, voice wavering again. “As for what I need…I find it hard to explain.”
Neva looked down at her once again fisted hands in her lap. After a few moments, she said “My mother would tell you in a hot minute, as my dad would say.” Neva closed her eyes & continued. “She wants me to ‘hear’ her again. To have my ‘issues’ healed.”
She gazed defiantly at the counselor. “I’m fine as I am. I do what I love, live my life like anyone else.”
Neva stood, gazing at Elegy wryly. “Well, at any rate, YOU got more out of me than anyone else, Counselor. My mother would be as happy as…well, to use the Earth quote-happy as a pig in shit.”
Looking back at Neva, Elegy’s green eyes narrowed, briefly, in a questioning expression. He nodded at her twice, and he said, “I’m hearing about what your mother and your father expect of you. It’s natural to put deep consideration into those expectations.” Tilting his head towards his right shoulder, Elegy asked, “What does it mean to you to be just another human?”
Neva’s eyes flashed. “My father’s been dead since I was 22, so his opinion is moot.” She shot out of the chair, crossing her arms across her chest. “As for what I expect, the short answer is nothing. My mother pushed me into this appointment, I fulfilled my end of the bargain.”
Neva walked toward the door, she stopped and turned halfway towards him. “My meaning for me to be just another human is simple. My father was human. My Betazoid half doesn’t need to be let out. In short, Counselor, my life is my own.” Neva was about to turn back toward the door but stood there for a long moment. Her shoulders slumped and she could barely be heard to say, “The last things I felt & heard before blacking out were triumph that I now knew my place…”
The doors swished softly.
Still staring at the closed door, Elegy breathed out a, “huh,” and he blinked again. He rubbed the stubble on his chin and he finished his coffee, still staring. “A two iced coffee problem,” he remarked sardonically. “Fairy tales and orphans.”