Part of Starbase Bravo: Q2 2400

Paladins in Distress

Starbase Bravo, Sector Hotel-Turquoise, Counseling Office
March 2400
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When the door chimed, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Elegy Weld pounced to his feet a little too quickly.  He felt that familiar biting pain in his right knee.  Elegy put a hand on the back of the armchair to steady himself.  Truly, it was a miracle he was able to walk and jog as normal after the injury he’d sustained in the Century Storm.  But even greater than the twang of pain itself was the gnawing in his stomach that he still wasn’t totally totally healed after many weeks of treatment.

After pausing a little too long, Elegy said, “Come in.”  The privacy locks on the door released, allowing entrance to the counseling office.  Nothing about the compartment was designed to look much like a work area; rather, it was furnished to appear more like a lounge.

Evelyn stepped into the office and quickly examined the surroundings, as a cat would before it crossed the street. More nervous than usual as Ev had not seen a therapist in over fifteen years. It was not an experience she wished to repeat. Unfortunately, if the LTJR wanted a ship assignment, she had no choice in the matter. At least the office had a pleasant atmosphere.

“Hello,” she said. “I’m your eleven o’clock, I think.” Her tone was meek and uncertain. “Lt. Sommers … Junior Grade. You are Dr. Weld?” Her hand outstretched for a welcome greeting, it suddenly occurred to her the man’s name was on the wall outside the door and on his diploma and desk. “I’m sorry, of course you’re Weld, unless you just like pretending to be other people …” She flashed a painfully grimaced smile. “… and that sounds really stupid and can I just start over and say, hi?”

Responding brightly, Elegy said, “Yes, hello, I’m Doctor Weld!”  As he shook her hand, he said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.  Feel free to make yourself comfortable anywhere.”  Elegy padded over to one of the arm chairs and he settled himself into it.  “For what it’s worth, pretending to be other people can be a lot of fun in other situations.”

The sofa looked comfortable, so Evelyn took her seat, crossed her legs and placed both hands on the top knee. The Doctor seemed kind and courteous and she waited until he also took his own seat. 

Beside her was a box of tissues and a few magazines neatly stacked on top of one another. In fact the room looked immaculate, with the exception of one book in the bookcase that was slightly askew. She glared at the book for a moment before Weld spoke. 

“Pretend to be other people?” She studied the man curiously at his comment. “Roleplay? I haven’t done that since I was a kid. I always played the paladin. I tried being a dwarf once, but I don’t like beer all that much.” 

Evelyn’s recollection of childhood clearly evoked memories at the surface of Elegy’s own thoughts.  He stared off into the middle distance, and he sounded like he was drifting, when he remarked, “I always ended up as the damsel in distress.”  As soon as he said that, Elegy blinked hard and he rolled his shoulders back.  “As a psychiatrist with a new check-up, my approach is conversational,” Elegy said, resuming his focus on Evelyn.  “I may intersperse standardized questions, but my primary goal is to identify if I can offer any resources towards you achieving everything you want from your Starfleet career.”

Evelyn bit her fingernail as Dr. Weld sat in silence. Was her joke that bad? She glanced around the office again. The skewed book seemed to tempt her, mock her. Weld broke the ice with his own jest, which made Ev feel more at ease. She chuckled briefly and listened to what the psychiatrist had in mind. She identified ad studied celestial anomalies, so in a way, she knew where he was coming from. How roleplay would aid Ev in her, but Weld was the shrink. 

“I just want to get back on a ship.” She shrugged and made a deep sigh. “Maybe it’s corny, but I like finding new things. I like cataloging new celestial properties.” She eyed the skewed book again and chewed on her thumbnail. 

Elegy smiled at that desire; it was plainly a wistful expression.  The entirety of his life before Starfleet had been spent aboard starships, and he could understand the attraction.  “The vagaries of Starfleet’s personnel assignments remain a mystery to me,” Elegy replied, a little bit perturbed by that fact.  “Why do you supposed you’ve been assigned to Starbase Bravo?”

“I guess, because I’m crazy,” Ev cracked a laugh as her face lightly reddened. She had been told to ease up on many occasions. A joke seemed like a good ice breaker. Her gaze fell on the one crooked book in the case once again. “Well, I’ve always been a little OCD. I like things to be very neat and orderly. Typically, that helps me in Starfleet, but my compulsiveness has increased over the last few months.” She smiled thoughtfully for a moment and continued.

“Our ship, the Valkyrie, went down. We were caught in a sun flare and the ship’s shields went down, there were major hull breaches. It was traumatic, but …” 

… that wasn’t the problem. The LT went on to tell Dr. Weld about a Klingon she helped to the escape pod. Debris had fallen on top of the LT and …

“… I helped him up. That’s what you do, right?”

Everyone made it out safely, but Ev blacked out. When she woke up planetside, the Klingon …

“… his name was Krun’ak. His concussion was worse than anyone thought. He died and no one could do anything.” Ev’s fingers twisted around one another. She looked away to avoid eye contact. Her voice cracked. “W-well, there’s this ritual that the Klingons have …” 

… sometimes called Heghtay, the Klingons cried out to the heavens, a warning that a Klingon warrior is about to enter Sto’Vo’Kor.

“But we weren’t Klingon. That’s what Lt. Saytra said, and why we couldn’t perform the ritual. Ever since then, my OCD has gone into warp speed.” A smile cracked her face for a moment. “But Krun’ak wasn’t complete. You know. He wasn’t in his little nook. He wasn’t perfect.” 

Lt. Sommers looked down as her fingers twisted around one another once again. “So, yes. I know why I’m here. I’m crazy and they don’t trust me on a ship.” 

Elegy leaned forward in his chair, bracing his palms against his knees.  He looked at Evelyn unblinkingly, as he let what she said hang in the air between them. Eventually, Elegy asked, “Do you believe that in your heart of hearts, or is that a bit of levity?”  He spoke slowly, because the words came out with weight to them.  He added, “We don’t use the word crazy too lightly in these hallways of the ‘base.”

“A bit of both, I suppose,” Evelyn said in answer to his question. She crossed her legs, then uncrossed them and finally crossed them again. “I know I’m not mentally incompetent, but I also know that I’m not right either.” The LT picked at her fingernails as she once again glared at the crooked book on the shelf. No one frets over one sock or worries about disturbing the perfection of a freshly new toothbrush. “I didn’t tell you about the toothbrush, did I?” She laughed nervously and went back to picking her fingernails. 

“No, you haven’t told me about the toothbrush,” Elegy replied.  He shook his head, trying to hold back a bemused expression, and entirely failing at that.  “Why don’t you tell me about the toothbrush,” Elegy said, and he mimed as if he were holding the sides of a small box, when went on, “and explain it to me within the framework of what you think is not right about you?”

“The toothbrush was new; I bought it at the store on the station. That evening, when I was freaking out about the sock, I went to brush my teeth.” Evelyn mimicked brushing her teeth. “I looked at the brush and noticed how perfect it was. It was brand new; the bristles were white and straight.”

She paused for a moment to reach for a memory. “I paint watercolors, in my spare time. There are days I just stare at the perfection of that blank canvas. It’s done. It’s perfect, complete. Who am I to screw it up?”

Without a word, Evelyn rose to the floor, marched to the bookcase and straightened the crooked book. She sat back down and sighed. 

“Now, it’s perfect.”

Elegy craned his neck from left to right to follow Evelyn with his gaze.  He was silent, at first, as he absorbed what she showed him, what she had said to him. He looked down at the carpet, for a moment, and scratched an itch on the side of his knee.  Finally, Elegy asked, “Have you talked about this in counseling before? Have you developed strategies for feeling more right about yourself?”

“No. I haven’t,” Evelyn replied. “Like I said before my OCD helps in my work. It’s not been a problem per se until the Valk.” She fidgeted with with her fingers again, both eyes affixed to the digits instead of the therapist. “I haven’t been to therapy since –” She looked up, as if searching for the answer in the clouds. “I went for a few weeks after my Dad died.” Evelyn chewed on her lip and turned away. “Strategies, yes,” she said, quickly changing the subject. “I do the best that I can. 110%. That’s how I make myself right and I enjoy it.” 

Nodding slowly, Elegy said, “I’ve found the things that make us successful in our careers don’t always suit us for the rest of our lives.  That competitive advantage can just as easily hinder you, overnight.  For me, it really came out of nowhere.  It worked right up until the moment it didn’t.”  Elegy dropped his gaze and he brushed a stray crumb off his thigh.  He didn’t leave Evelyn in silence for too long, when he looked up again.  Elegy asked, “Would finding some healthy strategies be something you’d be interested in exploring with me?  Perhaps we can land on a strategy that doesn’t require one-hundred-and-ten percent of you to feel successful?”

“Maybe?” She shrugged. “I don’t know. I really don’t have that much of a life outside work,” Evelyn said, a sad chuckle in her voice. “I don’t have any friends. Not that the people here aren’t friendly. They are … or seem to be.” She brushed her hair out of her eyes and behind her hair, then looked down at her fingers again. The nails were jagged from the places she picked. The sofa creaked as she sat back and turned away. “I want to go back out. That’s where I was happiest.” Ev rubbed her eyes and picked at her cuticles. “Sorry,” she said. Her head hung low for a moment until she met Elegy eye to eye. “Yes. Let’s find some healthy strategies.” 

Reaching for a PADD, Elegy typed a quick note to himself.  In transparency, he said, “I’ll schedule a follow-up appointment for us,” with a quick nod.  “If you like, we can also strategize how to build you a new reputation – to make you irresistible to a starship crew.  We can get you back out there.  I’m sure of it!”

“Alright. That sounds like a plan to me, Dr. Weld.” A broad smile blossomed on Evelyn’s face. For the first time in a long while her outlook for the future looked hopeful. As she rose from the couch, the LT spotted a stray hair on Elegy’s arm sleeve and started to reach out to pick it. “Oops, sorry. Personal space. You just have a tiny hair on your sleeve, and — you know what? It’s nothing.” She frowned for a moment, but remained positive. The door swished open, but Ev stood in the doorway for a moment, picking at her fingers by her side. She turned back to Elegy. “A new reputation?  I hope you’re a miracle worker, Doc.” 

Comments

  • I really enjoyed this! Good back and forth with further mysteries revealed and a gauntlet of challenges ahead to resolve the troubles! Nice work.

    May 21, 2022
  • This is amazing. It really drew me in and had me attempting to analyze Ev's character right long with Dr. Weld. Both are interesting characters who seem to have well-developed backgrounds. I am now fully invested in Ev's therapy process. Well done!

    May 30, 2022