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JP: PNPC Lt. Vance Sheridan & Lt. Sabina Tiam: Off the Record


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((Starbase 118: Habitat Section))
::Sabina walked purposefully through the corridors of one of the Starbase’s habitat areas. She had spent the last half hour in her quarters, pacing. Something that, as of late, had become far too habitual for Sabina. Her transfer to Intelligence had come with a rigorous up-training schedule and fascinating work, each consuming the majority of her time despite any remaining leave. But she had found that upon returning home in the evenings, something just wasn’t quite right. Given any amount of time without other distractions, her thoughts inevitably turned to the Noguwip. Which, eventually caused the knotted anxiety to return to the pit of her stomach.::
::So, rather than spend another evening lost in her own repetitive thoughts, she had taken it upon herself to seek out one of the only other people who might be able to empathize with her.::
::Standing outside Vance Sheridan’s quarters, Sabina pressed the door chime and waited.::
::As was the norm of late, Vance had only been back home for a few minutes before he’d slipped into a post-work funk. He’d managed to wean himself off ice cream (as long as he didn’t hear the words ‘cookie dough’ spoken aloud he would be fine) before there had been any major long-term repercussions on his waistline. In fact, he didn’t really feel much like eating at all now in the evenings. An untouched Hawaiian pizza balanced awkwardly on a heap of PADDs on the coffee table in front of the sofa, which itself hosted Vance and his black stormcloud. He stared vacantly at the screen on the terminal on his wall, which was playing back a documentary about wildlife in the Serengetti.::
::He was wearing a pair of comfortable jeans and his dad’s old hockey shirt. Despite being a couple of sizes too big (big enough that the neckline was sagging off to one side, revealing his collar bone and the freckles on one side of his neck), it reminded him of home. It used to be purple, but it was quite badly faded, and the stitching was coming undone from one of the patches on the sleeves. As if to complete the look, he’d been lying down with his head propped against the arm of the sofa for long enough that his hair was sticking up at the back, like a duck’s tailfeathers.::
::When the chime rang, he started, coming back into focus and hauling himself into an upright position. Travelling to the door was like walking on stepping stones between piles of discarded clothes. His furniture resembled obstacles that were stacked with used mugs and plates. Very little by way of tidying had happened since the riots had ended.::
::He made it to the door without more of an incident than tripping over a pair of track pants. When the door slid back to reveal Sabina, he regained his sense pretty quickly. He wasn’t sure who he had been expecting, but seeing a friend on his doorstep immediately had him worrying about the state of the place and what they might think.::
Sheridan: Sabina! Hi!
Tiam: ::Smiling.:: Hi. ::She glanced past him into his quarters for a moment.:: I hope I’m not interrupting anything.
::As the Betazoid tried to look past him into his quarters, he found himself angling himself to try to block her line of sight to the devastation that lay inside. It was a futile effort.::
Sheridan: Nope. Nothing at all. ::He cleared his throat and mentally switched himself into counsellor mode.:: What can I do for you?
Tiam: I had hoped you might have some time- ::Sabina cut herself off and, with a breath, visibly dropped her pretext.:: It’s been a long couple of days and I could use a friend to spend some time with. Mind if I come in? ::beat:: Oh, ::She held up the bottle that had previously been tucked under her arm.:: and I come bearing gifts.
::Coming back out of counsellor mode was a little less easy than jumping into it. It took Vance a couple of seconds of silence to process what she was actually asking, which probably came over as him having been momentarily hypnotised by the bottle. One part of his mind was reminding him loudly that he wanted to be on his own. The other half was unable to ignore the fact that Sabina was asking for a friend’s help.::
::When it came down to it, he felt like spending a time with a friend would really do him some good. He’d been alone enough. He told that part of his mind to pipe down.::
Sheridan: Wow. Good choice of gift. Come on in. Just uh… give me a second to turn this place from a dump back into a habitable environment…
Tiam: Thanks.
::Walking in, she began to look around the living space as the door closed behind her. Clearly, Vance’s response to the stress of their recent mission hadn’t been neurotic cleaning. Sabina did her best to hide her amusement.::
::He started whizzing around the room, pushing bundles of clothes into heaps and stacking all of the cups and plates in one area so that they could be ferried more quickly to the recycler later.::
Sheridan: ::Under his breath:: Embarrassiiiiing… ::He fumbled for some appropriate small talk to distract his guest from the fact he was speed-tidying.:: So what did you bring?
Tiam: I’m clear out of Saurian brandy. ::Her drink of choice.:: But I did have this tucked away… I don’t know if you’re a whiskey person, but it’s honied and fairly mild. Perfect for sipping.
::Well, his luck was in then. It was really too bad that Sabina had run out of her favourite drink, but it sounded like what she had brought was very close to Vance’s favourite.::
Sheridan: Sounds good!
::He cleared a couple of t-shirts and his uniform off the seats and hurled them over towards the pile, then carefully cleared everything except for the pizza from the coffee table. The living area actually looked like a living area again.::
Sheridan: Help yourself to pizza. That was just replicated a short time ago, I promise. I’m really sorry about the mess. I’m usually pretty tidy, but I guess work kind of got on top of me lately.
::She glanced at the pizza. While she had developed an affinity for the human food living on Earth for so long, her appetite wasn’t with her this evening.::
Tiam: Thanks. And seriously, don’t worry about it. We’ve all been swamped.
::Though, her quarters were immaculate. Sabina did, in fact, respond to stress with neurotic cleaning.::
::He decided that taking the step of plumping up the flattened cushions so that Sabina actually had a fighting chance of being comfortable might be a good idea, and took care of it in short order.::
Sheridan: OK. ::He sighed, then smiled cheerily.:: I think we’re good, although you might want to just, you know, run a scan or something to make sure this isn’t still a hazardous environment.
Tiam: ::She chuckled.:: Really Vance, it’s fine. Besides, exposure is the only way to build resistance!
::Helping herself to the replicator, Sabina produced two short whiskey tumblers with ice. She filled them with a moderate amount of the drink she’d brought. Enough to not seem stingy, but not as much as to imply she was trying to get the good counselor drunk. She handed one of the glasses off to him and took a seat on the couch, pulling one leg up under the other very casually.::
Tiam: ::After a deep sip of her drink.:: Before we get too comfortable, let me say, I am here strictly as a friend. Can we leave the job outside?
::Vance had been working appointments all day again, and was certainly in need of a break. Not having to think too carefully about what he said next, or avoiding leading questions or, heck, not having to write everything down? That sounded like a major blessing.::
Sheridan: God, yes.
Tiam: ::She smiled.:: Ok. Good. Then let me ask you something… ::She set her drink down on the table in front of her, leaning forward with an expression of genuine curiosity.:: How have you been?
::She asked not in the way friends did to catch up, but rather with the weight of knowing he too had gone through a difficult time.::
::Oh, they were going there.::
Sheridan: Uhm…
::He frowned, nodding in consideration of how he was going to answer, then took in a slow, deep breath through his nose. If they were doing this the friends way instead of the counselling way, then he figured he should just go for an honest answer.::
Sheridan: Pretty crappy, honestly. I tried to bury myself in work to distract myself and now the amount of follow-up appointments is starting to get on top of me. I also cried in front of the first officer, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t do much for your kudos. How about you?
::He took a drink from his glass, features expressing his concern once he swallowed the alcoholic nectar. There was no hiding the fact he was increasingly worried he hadn’t really helped Sabina during her appointment.::
Tiam: ::She ran a hand through her mass of hair, considering.:: I could say I’ve been managing fine. Enjoying leave, staying on top of things but, honestly, it’s been really difficult. Once the day’s distractions are done…
::She trailed off and took another sip of her whiskey, welcoming the warmth that came with it. She supposed no one had said honesty was easy, but still, Sabina was finding that she had become so comfortable behind a veneer of professionalism, anything less than a polished, prepared image was challenging.::
Tiam: I don’t know. I come home and it’s like the only thing left is what happened this past mission. Which, of course, is the last thing I really want to spend time pouring over.
::Vance nodded, rubbing the back of his neck with his free hand.::
Sheridan: No kidding. I was worried I didn’t help you out enough in that counselling appointment. I think you’re doing a very good job of holding everything together, though.
Tiam: I’m quite good at avoidance. But hold on, let’s circle back for a second. Did you say you cried in front of Taybrim? ::Her brows scrunched in concerned curiosity.::
::He laughed, more out of embarrassment than anything else. Perhaps he shouldn’t have said anything. Regret was painted on his face as he answered, mostly that it had happened in the first place.::
Sheridan: Yeah. I did that. He was good about it. I was explaining to him how helpless I felt when Y-rocck… you know...
::He was overtired and didn’t really have all the necessary defences in place to deal with remembering that part of his conversation with the commander. There was no way he was going to let it happen again, so he tailed off, using his drink as a convenient way to mask the fact he needed a second to get himself straight.::
::It took him a second to stabilise himself, and another second to get his voice back. His hand dropped onto his lap and he hung his head, looking down into his glass.::
Sheridan: Sorry. You know what I mean.
::Shifting into a new posture on the couch, one arm on the back cushion, Sabina leaned her head onto her hand with a small sigh.::
Tiam: I don’t mean to be so forward about everything. It’s just, back home, when things are hard, or difficult circumstance arise, there aren’t really secrets. Everything is out in the open, discussed and eventually I suppose, settled. That’s really not the case across the fleet.
::Vance had a different view of things as a counsellor, but that was because talking about difficult circumstances with members of the fleet was his day job. Thinking about it, he couldn’t remember very many times where he’d overheard other officers talking to each other about things that were bugging them, so he really had to concede that point.::
Sheridan: I guess. People do have a tendency to keep things to themselves.
Tiam: I notice Terrans, especially, seem to keep emotional issues very private. It’s hard not to pick up on that habit.
::Some humans that Vance knew were unfailingly private. They were the ones who showed up to counselling sessions and effectively clammed up for an hour, maybe surrendering one piece of information if he was lucky.::
Sheridan: It’s easily picked up and not so easily broken. I didn’t think I was private, but I guess I found out how much being able to keep my feelings to myself means to me. Maybe it’s a human failing, and we should learn to share more, as a species.
::A brief moment of quiet settled over the pair. Sabina slowly spun the contents of her glass and watched the ice settle before looking back up to Vance.::
Tiam: Did they give you a commendation? ::She assumed they did, if anyone had really deserved recognition, it was Vance.:: They gave me one. Now, sometimes I just look at it and think, what an odd thing to receive this for.
Sheridan: Yeah, I got one too. I guess I’ve maybe been seeing it as a consolation prize. Validation in some way that I didn’t make a horrendous mess of the mission.
::And a reminder, too, that someone thought that his choice to doom a Starfleet ambassador twice over hadn’t actually been a choice so much as an unavoidable necessity.::
Tiam: Maybe it’s just me but, ::she chose her next few words carefully.:: what we went through on that ship, it’s got me questioning a lot. I feel a bit like I’m being dragged through Plato’s cave.
::The main question in Vance’s mind was ‘why?’ Other than taking the chance to torture three innocent people, Vance really didn’t see any benefit to what Y-rocck had done beyond making himself feel powerful and getting a rush out of inflicting pain and suffering. Beyond that, he supposed he’d spent more time feeling sorry for himself than doing much else. He’d been up and down; the night he’d spent on wingman duty for Peters had been amusing, and he’d enjoyed talking to Kaitlyn Falcon in the pub, but other than that it hadn’t been a barrel of laughs.::
Sheridan: Having your eyes opened to the world outside?
::He’d seen a diagram that illustrated the cave during his studies at school, before he’d even joined the academy. He’d found it interesting, although the ramifications of exactly what it had meant hadn’t been fully apparent at the time. Prisoners, chained in a cave, with the sun shining through the entranceway and casting renditions of life from the outside onto the cave wall in shadow. The thought behind it was that to the prisoners, those moving shadows were the closest thing to reality that they would ever experience.::
Tiam: Something like that.
::In the allegory, the journey from prisoner to one who could stand upright and look upon the sun and the world underneath it was often described as a painful one. One would, after all, resist an entirely new reality being thrust upon them.::
Sheridan: So, what kinds of thing are you questioning?
Tiam: Myself, mainly. ::The corner of her mouth raised in a smirk but her eyes remained dark.:: My principles. On Betazed we have strict moral guidelines on the use of telepathy both for within our own communities and for interacting with species who are not telepathic. But during the war, after a long occupation and realizing there were no other options, many turned to weaponizing their telepathy.
::The sentiment now made her far more uncomfortable than it once did, something that was written all over her body language. Still, hating to see a good whiskey get watered down, Sabina took the last sip of her drink. And with it gained the final bit of resolve she needed to finish her thought.::
Tiam: I used to understand that. I used to try and prepare for a day when that might be needed again, strengthening my abilities and my attitudes. But now… Now I wonder if that makes me like him.
::As the conversation turned towards something that had been nagging at the edges of Vance’s mind since the riots had ended, he shifted in his seat, tucking his legs onto the sofa. One knee was tucked into his chest, with his free arm wrapped around it in a half-guarded gesture.::
::Sal Taybrim had told him that Betazoids had a moral code about when they should and should not use their telepathy with offworlders. Sabina had just repeated that, and then told him she was questioning his morals. Suddenly, he felt a lot less safe.::
::The idea of someone going in his mind again was terrifying. What made it even worse was that it seemed oddly compelling somehow. Uncomfortably, no, harrowingly compelling. He scratched at his knee absently and breathed in deeply through his nose as he answered.::
Sheridan: I guess that depends on whether or not you still feel it would be morally wrong to force yourself into someone’s mind. If you don’t, or if you do but then you still do it anyway, then yeah. That would make you like him. But if you don’t, then it doesn’t.
::Part of him was expecting her to just take the opportunity then and there. There was no-one else in the room. It was odd; he didn’t feel afraid, not now he knew what it felt like. He was just preparing himself for the worst.::
::Primarily unaware of Sheridan’s deep concern, in part due to her own avoidance of her empathic abilities and in part due to being wrapped up in her own thoughts, Sabina weighed his words.::
Tiam: It’s funny, after what happened, I can’t even access the full extent of my abilities. ::She bit at her lip.:: It’s like I scare myself off. But I hear what you’re saying. Still, can it circumstantial?
::She thought back to the series of events leading to Aidris-Taree’s expulsion from SB118, the images in her mind sending chills down her spin.::
Tiam: I mean, I hate to say it, truly I do, but what happened on that ship, clearly made us impervious to the entity on the base. And without that, things could have ended up very different. So, ::She rested her head on her arm now, propped comfortably on one corner of the couch.:: do the ends justify the means, or do the means make us who we are?
::As she recapped the events that had brought about an end to the riots, Vance made two realisations in quick succession. The first was that whether or not Y-rocck’s invasion had left them impervious to Taree’s psionic abilities was probably a moot point. The second was that he wasn’t looking at someone who was about to hurt him. Thoughts of Y-rocck reminded him who his enemy was for one thing and, for another, if Sabina had wanted to hurt him then she would have done it by now.::
::In fact, she wouldn’t have even needed to enter the room first.::
Sheridan: The ends definitely do not justify the means in this case. With his level of psionic power, I don’t have any doubts that Y-rocck could have boarded the station himself and dealt with Taree. Instead, it was just more convenient to use expendable puppets.
::Whether or not his theory was right or wrong was irrelevant to him in that moment. He had been used, so had his friends, and he was angry about it.::
::Sabina leaned forward, gripped by his words. He had laid out the situation so bluntly and in a way that she had not been seeing it. Had she been justifying what had happened to herself, trying to write off and minimize something that was truly terrible?::
Sheridan: He knew exactly what he was doing. He was playing with us. He walked into and out of our minds for fun, then he poisoned you, tried to cut the Ambassador’s head open and gave me no choice but to burn myself. He was a monster.
::Sabina was silent. As Vance spoke, a heady mix of anger and cold pain rolled around her like a heavy fog. Whether it was because his emotions were so strong, or because her focus on blocking out such things had failed her, she couldn’t say. In fact, she found it rather difficult to know what feelings were coming from where.::
::She had been fine. What happened was nothing more than a fact, a bullet point in a mission summary. But Vance, he had told the real story, he had given the facts truth. A glance down at her hands revealed a faint tremble.::
Tiam: ::Her voice was thinner than it usually was.:: Is that… what happened?
::His fingers gripped his knee and his knuckles turned white. A tremor ran through his upper body, almost like a shiver, but from the cold that only anger can produce. He tried to hold everything inside himself, knowing that someone needed him to be strong enough to just talk to them, but his emotions betrayed him. He gasped in a breath as twin tears spilled down his face. He didn’t do anything to hide it this time.::
Sheridan: You’re a good person. What happened on Betazed with the Jem’Hadar is a different thing. ::He swallowed, continuing to speak past the lump in his throat.:: Sometimes, you don’t have a choice but to fight back if you want to survive and that is very, very different to making someone suffer and getting enjoyment out of it.
::For a long moment, Sabina didn’t know how to react. It had been a long time since someone had been so open with her. And she couldn’t think of a time anyone had called her a “good” person. She felt a chill on her cheeks. Reaching a hand up, she felt fallen tears there. When had that happened, she wondered. And why were they still coming?::
::Something else was nagging at her. Vance wasn’t feeling all of this over her. Clearly, his struggle with this was equally raw. With the delicate movement of a dancer, she positioned herself closer to him.::
Tiam: Vance, ::She looked at him, making sure that he had a moment to breathe and was looking at her.:: you’re right you know. Sometimes, ::She blinked tears from her eyes.:: sometimes you don’t have a choice.
Sheridan: If I’d had the power to fight back against Y-rocck and hurt him, really hurt him, so that I could defend myself, I would have done it.
::There was less anger in his words now. It had been overtaken by honesty. He spoke slowly, voice cracking under the weight of too much emotion.::
Sheridan: He humiliated us and made us suffer for fun. What kind of creature does that?
::Y-rocck was far from the most dangerous force in the galaxy, but few other threats were threats for the sake of it. The Borg sought perfection. Orion pirates were driven by greed. That didn’t justify what any of them did, but it made it easier to rationalise.::
Tiam: But we survived. ::Trembling hands wiped at her jaw line where the tears inevitably settled before falling.:: And we didn’t go through it alone.
::She was right about that. He answered her with a nod. He wanted to smile and say something reassuring, or to give her a hug, but the guilt from suspecting she might hurt him had caught up with him. He wiped at his eyes with the back of his sleeve, taking momentary comfort from the memories of home it invoked.::
Sheridan: I don’t know which way is up any more. I don’t know about you, but I feel like there are no boundaries around my mind anymore, and everyone is a potential threat. I mean, I honestly don’t know how I would have held things together through the riot if you hadn’t been there and I know we don’t know each other very well, but I already think of you as a friend… but, just now when you said you were questioning the moral code that Betazoids have, I thought you were going to go wandering around in my brain. Even though I trust you not to.
::He sighed deeply and wiped away more tears.::
Sheridan: I’m supposed to be a counsellor and tell people how to deal with things like this, but knowing what to say and then actually doing it are two different things. Have you been having the same problem?
::Just because she was a Betazoid didn’t mean that she was necessarily predisposed towards being able to hold things together any better than he could.::
Tiam: ::She nodded.:: Vance, I don’t know what to do. I feel lost, displaced in a world I should already know. And I don’t appreciate that some external force could even be responsible for it. Most my day is spent on autopilot. Working is easy. In fact, anything that isn’t sitting in my quarters, thinking, seems easy.
::For a moment, Sabina’s mind went to that place. Her thoughts slipped into the same ones that were there for her in the dark hours of early morning. Her eyes welled with tears as she felt again the same swirl of failure and vulnerability she had been going to bed with each night. The worst of it was that they hadn’t seized Y-rocck. With a small sniffle, and a conscious choice to do so, she thought on the other points he had made, feeling boundaryless and susceptible to any manner of telepathy.::
Tiam: I can’t say that I see telepathic threats more than usual. But I have more experience with telepathy. I have the biological advantage of mutual awareness. In most cases at least… ::Though, it hadn’t made a difference with Y-rocck.:: But I haven’t truly interacted with a telepath since being back either. ::She paused.:: I’m not exactly looking forward to it, but, part of me knows I also need it. ::She gave a defeated chuckle.:: If I get spooked off by telepaths, how will I ever go home?
::It was a terrible thought, not being able to return home. It had been thinking of home that had kept Vance grounded so far. Where did the cost of all of this end?::
Sheridan: I guess it’s something we’re both going to have to come to terms with.
::Some other Federation species were a little less reserved about the use of telepathy, after all. Breaking down on coming into contact with them would be no good and yet Vance couldn’t help but feel he might never be comfortable with that kind of contact again.::
::Sabina stood, a bit more slowly than usual as she gave some of her muscles a good stretch on the way up. She began collecting their empty glasses, for recycling or for refill she wasn’t exactly sure yet. But she didn’t want to contribute to any untidiness in someone else’s quarters. Especially after Vance’s power cleaning earlier in the evening had given him such a strong start.::
Tiam: ::Changing the subject, she spoke a little more light heartedly, and with a bit of a smirk.:: Can I tell you what I don’t like about counseling?
::Vance spluttered out a shocked laugh. He hadn’t quite expected the conversation to head in that direction, although he could tell well enough that Sabina wasn’t about to slate him.::
Sheridan: Oh, so you’re going to kick me while I’m down now?
Tiam: I said counseling, not counselors. ::With that, her trademark smirk was in full force. But her tone settled on something serious as she explained herself.:: There aren’t enough actionable items in counseling. You can spend hours learning about how to look at situations or how difficult circumstances should be framed as we think about them, but sometimes, you leave the room going, “Ok, but what do I do?”
::Feeling she had acceptably tidied the mess she’d brought, Sabina returned to her place on the sofa.::
::That was an interesting comment and it was something Vance would have to admit that he and a good number of his colleagues regularly fell foul of.::
Sheridan: I’ll definitely bear that in mind. I think that sometimes, we don’t want to interfere too much and end up not quite doing enough.
Tiam: Might I make a suggestion for you?
::He wiped his face on his sleeve, having now gained a little more control of himself, then looked at Sabina curiously.::
Sheridan: What’s that?
Tiam: There are ways in which, even humans, can develop natural telepathic barriers. I’ll be blunt with you, they’re not magic and wouldn’t stand up to a force like Y-rocck. ::Of course, neither had her own.:: But, it can be comforting to know that you are, at least in some small way, a little more in control of which parts of your mind end up exposed.
::That did sound like a good idea. Whether or not Vance ever ended up using a technique like that, it would make him feel like he had some control over the situation.::
Sheridan: Do you know anyone who can help me with that?
::In fact, he felt like it would be as good as therapy in itself. A dedicated period of time spent taking care of the way he felt, and not by grieving, or feeling sorry for himself, but by doing something positive. He was a positive guy most of the time, not that his experiences on Starbase 118 so far necessarily reflected that.::
Tiam: ::Sabina pursued her lips, thinking.:: I would recommend a Vulcan approach. Which, is not my specialty but, I think it would be the most effective. If I recall correctly, there’s a Vulcan temple on the station that might be of use… But, there’s always the holodeck as well. Plenty of instructional programs available, I’m sure.
Sheridan: I’ll give it some thought and see about getting something set up. Are you going to do the same?
::She smiled wearily with a soft sigh.::
Tiam: No, no my issues will require a different approach.
::Sabina didn’t want to go into too much detail, given the counselor’s current relationship to telepaths. But truthfully, more than anything, she would need someone with whose mind she could work, willingly of course. An opportunity to become comfortable in her own abilities again would do wonders, she was sure. Another Betazoid would be ideal, but the likelihood of that chance presenting itself in the near future seemed unlikely.::
Tiam: And a little patience.
::Still, if Vance ever wanted to test his ability to shield his thoughts and feelings, she would be happy to assist. But in the meantime, she would continue to work and play, as she had. And the stinging memories of the Noguwip would, at some point, begin to fade like old scars on thick skin.::
::There was a brief pause as conversation on the subject petered out. Vance was sure that either one of them could probably have spoken for hours about their experiences on the Noguwip but it was unnecessary. Each had seen what the other had been through, and they had just covered what hadn’t been seen. All Vance knew was that he wasn’t ready to sleep yet, and that he didn’t feel like sitting up on his own. He breathed in slowly and deeply through his nose and rubbed at one of his eyes with the knuckle of his index finger before making a suggestion he hoped would go over well.::
Sheridan: So, do you want to maybe hang out for a while? Do something, you know… normal? I have a bunch of stand up comedy shows from Earth if you’re interested, and I’m pretty sure my replicator still knows how to make ice-cream.
::He would probably need to remind himself how to get his lazy butt down to the gym at this rate, too. Still, in the name of hanging out with a friend rather than moping in a darkened room on his own, sacrifices had to be made.::
Tiam: Normal? What even is that? ::She grinned.:: Yes, I am all for that idea.
::She leaned back, more relaxed now. Sabina felt as though the air between them had been cleared. What happened on the Noguwip was no longer a topic that needed to be tiptoed around. Instead, she felt, the two had come to a place where they could find real solidarity in one another. Now the only matter left to settle was which ice cream flavor would cap off the evening. Though, even that presented a unique challenge…::
Tiam: But I have to admit something… ::A certain playfulness sparkled in her eyes.::
::Sabina spoke lightheartedly, lest she worry the counselor that another onslaught of emotion was coming.::
Sheridan: Uh-oh… ::He caught the whiff of some ruse or other and made a show of bracing himself behind one of his cushions.:: What is it?
Tiam: I haven’t tried ice cream before.
::He dropped the cushion, gaping.::
Sheridan: What the…? How is that even possible? Alright, don’t move a muscle. I’ll be right back with the flavour to end all flavours.
::He hopped up from the sofa and made short work of the trip to the replicator. Maybe falling off the wagon wouldn’t be so bad a thing.::
Sheridan: Computer, give me two bowls of cookie dough ice cream. Large.
::He was yet to encounter someone who didn’t fall in love with that particular vice at first taste but, if the impossible happened, the replicator was right there to provide well over a thousand different back-up plans…::
TBC
A JP by
PNPC Lieutenant Vance Sheridan
Counsellor
Starbase 118 Ops
&
Lt. Sabina Tiam
Intelligence Officer
Starbase 118 Ops
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