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Sedrin Belasi

JP: Lt Kellan Joran & Ens Ashley Yael - Regulary Scheduled Support

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((Starbase 118: Counsellor’s Office))

::It was incredible how routine visiting the counsellor had become. Kellan’s conditional return to duty after Counsellor Sheridan’s breakthrough with him on the Einstein, which had stipulated that he would need to continue with regular therapy sessions, had led to a change in career goals and an increase in Kellan’s confidence after a breakdown that he had expected would see him locked away and medicated to the point where he would live his life as a vegetable. Then it had become clear that he wasn’t in Ravensville any more - this wasn’t some fabricated alien reality designed by cruel tormentors to watch the young Bajoran respond to one unbearable stimulus after another. This was real, actual reality, where you could be surrounded by people who wanted to help you reach a point where you could function from day to day and reach a point where no-one had to be your crutch around the clock. Someone had served that role for him once before, and Kellan didn’t know if there would be a day where he would ever not regret the way he had treated that man.::

::It couldn’t have been more clear that counsellors were allies. When Counsellor Sheridan had transferred from the Einstein, Kellan had continued with a new counsellor, an older human by the name of Rosemary West. He hadn’t liked her quite as much as Sheridan, but they had got on well, and he had continued to progress under her care, to the point where his work had evidently attracted enough attention for him to be offered a department chief role. He wondered who he would be meeting this time.::

::He pushed the chime on the office door to announce his arrival. He was prepared for there to be a wait as he was aware that appointments sometimes ran on. The door opened almost immediately, though, and he walked in to find the office empty other than a young-looking Denobulan Ensign. Denobulans had a reputation for being easy to get on with, so it seemed his luck was in.::

:: Ashley had taken to his office easily, skipping the whole decoration part for the moment. His sudden placement on the Starbase after his rescue on the Albion had taken him aback, and he felt utterly unprepared. First thing was first… the PC’s… the priority cases… as well as updating himself concerning the senior staff. He had only had time to skim the files, unfortunately, before jumping in head first into the thickness of his first appointments hefty case file in more depth. Not that he hadn’t done this at a rapid pace before. There were methods to this madness, thankfully. The entry of the Bajoran crewmember was his cue, and as was his method, he clasped his hands behind his back in that easy way he had… a way that almost guaranteed an avoidance of the traditional handshake other species seemed to hold to. He gave the man a smile and allowed him to enter and introduce himself. ::

Kellan: ::Smiling:: Hi, I’m Lieutenant Kellan, here for an appointment at 1400.

Yael: Quite right, good to meet you Lieutenant. Counselor Yael, at your service. ::pausing:: I’ve had just a few moments to go over your file. It appears you’re a regular visitor.

Kellan: Yeah, I’ve been having regular sessions and it would be good to set some up here as well if you can fit me in.

::Given what was recorded on his file, the Bajoran was fairly sure that he wasn’t going to get any resistance on that front. In fact, it was quite likely that the request would be turned around the other way and he would be instructed to report for sessions rather than having to ask for them.::

Yael: Certainly, we can do that. ::knowing the complex and very *thick* file would suggest such a thing, and glad the man had volunteered rather than waiting to be voluntold:: But rather than leap into the thick of it off the bat…

:: Ashley made himself at home at one end of the comfortable couch at room’s center, pouring two mugs of freshly brewed Denobulan coffee at the table before it. The liquid was slightly bluish in color, rather than the typical black or deep brown. ::

Yael: … I’d rather we took a few moments to enjoy a proper cup first. If you don’t mind, of course.

:: Giving them both a chance to easily chat, giving him a chance to gauge the Bajoran’s mindset and allowing him to set the pace. ::

::There was only one problem with that idea, which was that the ‘proper cup’ contained some weird-looking concoction that Kellan had never set eyes on before. He leaned forward and sniffed at it warily.::

Kellan: What’s it a proper cup of?

Yael: This is a traditional Denobulan coffee. It’s made from a common tree, from which we grind and roast the bark, mixing it later with a dilution of its sap. It’s quite vibrant in flavor and has only a mild stimulant.

::It didn’t smell too bad. Even though Kellan wasn’t particularly sold on the tree bark description, he figured it was worth a try. It couldn’t hurt, really, and he didn’t tend to be over fussy about food and drink.::

Kellan: Sure, why not? It’s worth a try at least, right?

:: Ashley only smiled, glad to see the man willing to give it a shot. Openness to new experiences was a trait common to those who aspired to the Fleet life, so could be called a healthy impulse. ::

::The Bajoran engineer settled on the other end of the sofa, picking up one of the mugs and resting it on the arm. The room was familiar, yet unfamiliar. There were things about it that were immediately comparable to the counsellor’s office on the Einstein, but others that were not. Part of him felt at home here, while the rest of him felt slightly awkward. He knew it was important for that not to become a barrier, though, so he decided to try his coffee. It was just slightly too hot, so it was an extremely small sip, but the verdict was…::

Kellan: I like that, actually. It’s not quite as bitter as Terran coffee. Or raktajino. That stuff could turn your eyeballs inside out.

Yael: Gah… ::visibly disturbed by the very mention of the Klingon drink::... agreed wholeheartedly.

Kellan: I feel like raktajino is like this acceptance ritual. Like, you know, if you don’t order a raktajino from the replicator when you go there then you’re not part of the gang. Did you ever find that?

::Maybe it was just on the Einstein, but he would certainly be interested to know if it was the Starfleet equivalent of being a jock, or an A-teamer. He’d given up after about two cups and decided to plough his own furrow.::

Yael: ::thinking on it, then, with a grin:: That sounds as if it could be true. I’ve had a similar introduction to *it.*

Kellan: Well, I guess that’s the benefit of being Chief Engineer. I get to choose what the drink is.

::He smiled and took another sip of the interesting beverage. He didn’t really intend to play games here, but he did want to let Counsellor Yael know that he was confident about the role he’d been assigned to on the starbase. He wasn’t going to let it swamp him, and he knew it was going to be important to make his mark on his staff as well as on the base itself.::

Yael: ::a glint of humor in his eyes:: So long as you avoid programing every drink to become a glass of water with a goldfish… ::eyes landing on the Bajorans::... an old friend of mine, also Chief Engineer, exacting revenge for a previous prank.

::Kellan smiled in amusement. He hadn’t thought of that. It would be a good way to play a joke on his colleagues, though, if he felt so inclined.::

Kellan: Sounds like a fun character to be around.

Yael: He was quite interesting. A tragic soul, but a vivacious and passionate personality. ::If one could call his old friend Chase’s hot-dogging “passionate”.:: I always wonder now, what mischief the Engineering Chief is up to.

:: And he meant that generally, as in all Engineering Chiefs, and he gave Kellan a properly amused look of suspicion. ::

::Still chuckling away, Kellan found his eyes drifting towards the lone pip on Yael’s collar. He didn’t really think anything of it, as all counsellors underwent the same training before they could be assigned to active duty. He decided to use it as another leg up for a conversation topic, settling down a little more comfortably as he did so.::

Kellan: So is this your first posting? Or have you served anywhere else?

Yael: Don’t let my rank fool you. ::the Denobulan chuckled lightly:: I’m not fresh from the Academy. I’ve some experience under my belt, and recently returned to active duty after an extended Leave of Absence.

Kellan: Oh? ::The Bajoran was aware that extended leaves of absence weren’t usually taken for the happiest of reasons.:: Was everything all right?

:: Mentally Ashley had to steel himself. He hadn’t tried this next part before… but he knew, with what he knew of what Kellan had experienced, relating to the man from the start in a profoundly honest way might be the best way to gain his trust. He wasn’t exactly looking *forward* to it, but it felt like the right path. ::

:: And his days of hiding were supposed to be over. ::

Yael: I was taken off active duty after experiencing a kidnapping and rather extended session of enthusiastic torture by a drug lord on Duronis II.

:: He paused after the words left him with deceptive ease… it was nowhere near “ease,” to be sure… his eyebrows almost imperceptibly knotted together ever so slightly… then continued with a few more details. ::

Yael: Afterwards I spent approximately six months under psychiatric care, and another year healing on Earth. Although, the time near Starfleet Headquarters gave me an excellent opportunity to study up on the specialty concerning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

::The sofa suddenly felt quite a lot less comfortable. All those times on Varo II when he’d been caught trying to steal food to sustain himself and Heril. He’d never been held and tortured, but he understood pain, and there was something behind this counsellor’s words that he felt he recognised.::

::He realised he probably shouldn’t have asked.::

Kellan: I’m sorry, I uh… ::he floundered for something else to say.::

Yael: ::lifting a hand to dismiss whatever platitude he suspected was coming:: It isn’t something I want to tiptoe around any longer. I’m a big believer in “owning” one’s experiences, as it were. Taking control of them makes it harder for them to control us.

:: He had placed those final comments in a more shared sense, insinuating that Kellan might also benefit from a mindset of personal strength in the face of adversity. ::

::A little off balance, mainly because he hadn’t expected that he would encounter anyone who actually understood what he’d been through rather than just doing a very good job of being sympathetic, Kellan nodded slowly.::

Kellan: Yeah, Counsellor Sheridan said something similar. ::The human had done the bulk of the work in helping Kellan come fully to terms with his experiences in the Ravensville simulation.:: I guess you’ve read my file?

Yael: I have read your file, yes. ::pausing, he [...]ed his head to one side slightly, smile solidly in place:: I assure you, you will have to work *very* hard to surprise me.

::The Bajoran actually quite liked the fact that there were a lot of things he wasn’t going to have to rehash or explain in detail. When a counsellor change came along, it helped that there was continuity.::

Kellan: Hopefully that won’t happen. I just find it easier to cope with some things if I can talk about them. I mean, I feel like I’m doing well enough, but there are maybe a few things that I could work on and be better at, if that makes sense. And honestly, having regular sessions makes me feel supported, so you won’t have to go hunting for me round the station at any stage.

Yael: Excellent news. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. Your most recent file additions were quite inspiring, if you didn’t know already.

:: Having turned the tone a bit low himself with his harsh but seemingly successful admission, Ashley now moved back to something positive to replace it. ::

Kellan: Well, that’s good to hear. I was pretty happy to get offered a chief engineer position, honestly. Especially on a starbase. I don’t think I’ll be short of a few things to do.

Yael: Too true. I do hope you excel at delegating.

Kellan: What, you mean being bossy? ::He smiled again.:: I can do that just fine.

Yael: I’ll believe that when I see it.

:: The Denobulan was being good-natured about the common issue, not being accusatory. Chiefs were notorious workaholics, in his experience. ::

Kellan: ::Confidently:: You will. I mean, I can’t promise I won’t work a bit of overtime during really busy spells, but there’s no good burning out, is there? And you can’t think if you’re too tired. That’s when mistakes happen.

::It sounded almost like someone else was talking through him, or he was reciting from a book. Those were things he did try to stick to, though. If the Chief Engineer was making mistakes through exhaustion then there was no telling what the repercussions might be.::

Yael: Would you say you’re well prepared for the role? Did it come as a surprise to you?

::Kellan took in a slow breath and turned around a little on the sofa, tucking up one leg and wrapping his hand around his cooling cup of coffee as he thought about how best to answer.::

Kellan: I feel like I’m prepared, yes. I shadowed the Chief Engineer on the Einstein for a while before I transferred over here, and I did a lot of reading up on the differences between keeping a starbase and a starship running. There’s no warp care on a starbase, obviously, so that means things are simpler in one way, but the fact that there are so many different facilities aboard, some of them unique, means things are much more complicated in another. I’m really looking forward to it.

::He took a longer sip from his mug. The drink was definitely a hit.::

Kellan: Was I surprised? I still don’t really believe I’m here. I thought I was going to have to plug away for years before I had a chance to progress. I didn’t know that they let you move up through the ranks if you were having counselling appointments, but apparently they do. I just didn’t really connect that seeing a counsellor doesn’t mean you’re automatically unfit for duty.

::He was also aware he’d been doing something right, so his approach to his life and his work since his switch to a gold collar had to be much improved from when he was wearing teal.::

Yael: ::chuckling as he took another sip of his drink:: No one ever believes us when we say such things. Counseling is entirely to your benefit, and all that. Those who shy away from us don’t tend to discover what you have… the secret is out.

:: That the “head shrink” wasn’t out to gobble up your secrets for nefarious means. ::

Yael: If I might move into a professional recommendation, on that note… ::pausing slightly::... your previous success indicates to me that one should not “fix what is not broken,” as Terrans are prone to saying. Do exactly what you have been doing, as much as you are able. Or in other words, change as little of your established routine as possible, at least in the short term.

:: The short term, to a typical overly-patient Denobulan, meant in the new few months. ::

Yael: Priority number one is adapting to your new role without derailing your progress.

::Kellan hung on the counsellor’s words. That had been key to his success so far.::

Kellan: I understand.

Yael: It would be entirely normal to experience some pushback during a time of change, where you might feel you are regressing somewhat. Be certain to take the liberties you need as you move forward.

Kellan: What do you mean? Like, give myself time off if I get stressed?

::He wanted to make sure he fully understood what Yael was recommending.::

Yael: If you feel it is necessary, yes. Or use other outlets. You’ve said you’ll be coming to see me regularly, that’s one. Holodeck time is another. There are also your hobbies, don’t forget them just because you’re an all-important Chief now. ::he said this in a positive way, with a grin:: They can be easily forgotten when we become overwhelmed or stressed.

Kellan: Yeah, that’s true.

::He could recall a few occasions where he’d been thinking about heading to the holodeck for the afternoon, but had sacked it off and just sat on the couch eating junk food.::

Yael: What *do* you do, aside your profession?

:: Ashley’s interest was two-fold. What hobbies a person took to told one a lot about them. It also opened up opportunities for socializing, which a Denobulan was rare to avoid. Unless it was something altogether terrifying, like orbital diving. ::

Kellan: Well, I quite like boxing, but I’m not very good at it. I had a lesson from one of my old friends from the USS Vigilant a while back, just before I transferred, and enjoyed it. I don’t mind getting hit ::because a punch to the face or body barely seemed to register in comparison to some of the things he’d been through - he hoped that wouldn’t need explaining:: and I enjoy the challenge of having to think about tactics while you’re defending yourself and looking for openings.

Yael: Boxing… good old fisticuffs. It does apparently have its draw. Afraid I’m not the right type to engage in it, but I do understand the appeal. ::pausing:: Anything else?

Kellan: I took up running recently as well, actually. I was looking for something else that involved exercise, but where I didn’t have to go down to the gym. I’d rather be outside running around than cooped up inside.

::Well, depending on who was using the gym of course. Sometimes the view in there wasn’t all that bad.::

Kellan: I use the holodeck mostly, and I try to use a new program every time I go. There are hundreds, and they keep getting updated, so I don’t think I’ll ever get bored.

Yael: Do you ever run with other crewmembers? Or do you interact with them in other ways?

::Kellan winced at the question. He had a feeling this one was going to get him some heat.::

Kellan: Uh, no… not so much. Usually I go running on my own. It’s good to get away from everything and just run sometimes. I did used to go and hang around in the ship’s lounge with a few friends on the Einstein, but I don’t really force the social side of things. If I’m friends with someone then I’ll spend time with them, but maybe not in massive groups just for the sake of it. Does that make sense?

:: So he kept his friends close, and kept most others at bay? At least, that’s what Ashley heard behind the spoken words. ::

Yael: I do understand. ::pausing before pushing a little deeper:: Do you know many of the starbase crew?

Kellan: I do know a couple of people on the starbase already, yeah…

::He tailed off. One of them he was happy to have been reunited with, and was looking forward to finding the time to catch up with them. The other, he was very concerned about what would come of them being posted together, even though he was actually even happier to have found him again than he was to have run into his other friend.::

Kellan: Actually, one of them… well, I was going to talk to you about them.

Yael: ::an eyebrow perking up in curiosity:: An old flame? Or perhaps, a rival?

:: For work or play, either was a potent combination. Old friends could renew both the spirit AND old difficulties. ::

Kellan: Old flame. It was me that screwed things up between us. I can see he’s still pretty angry about it, or cold, or whatever. Doesn’t seem keen on me being around is the overriding message. I don’t really blame him given how I broke things off.

:: He, an old flame. Something that had not been in his file, but not at all an issue. Denobulans were known for their liberal social policies regarding family and orientation, after all… having three wives, who in turn had three husbands apiece, led to such things being complicated, but considered utterly natural. ::

Yael: That’s unfortunate. If I may ask, what led you to break things off?

Kellan: I was going through a tough time. Things weren’t exactly peachy for him, either, but we got assigned to different places. I got the Einstein and he got… I don’t even remember. I couldn’t face saying goodbye because I was upset we were being split up, so I just… ::he dropped his face into his free hand.:: I sent him a letter. Didn’t call him, didn’t try to see him. That was like, 6 months of a good thing right down the toilet because I couldn’t bring myself to try to figure things out and just assumed the worst.

::That was probably his biggest regret for a long time. When he looked up again, it became clear that he was deeply embarrassed by what he’d done more than he was upset. He’d had some time to come to terms with it and decided what he wanted to do, long before he’d met Richard again.::

Yael: I see. ::it was clearly an action that bothered the Bajoran:: Then perhaps this is a good opportunity to mend that tear. Not that you should pursue a relationship at this time, but that you could seek to resolve the conflict. Allowing him to say his peace in the matter may be hard for you to hear, but could resolve some of your *guilt* in the matter. ::pausing slightly, setting down his mug:: When we think we’re going to bed alone at night, we’re largely incorrect. We must be able to sleep peacefully with ourselves, after all.

:: Every sentient being knew that battle. The one where the question of who they were, of their self-worth, came crawling into their mind when the lights were low and the bedroom silent. ::

::Oh boy, that would probably result in a death. Kellan wasn’t afraid of talking to Richard but he did think he understood how badly he’d hurt him. He felt like he could see some of it in that meeting.::

Kellan: You think that’s a good idea?

:: Purple eyes set on the Bajoran carefully. He didn’t want to encourage something Kellan wasn’t prepared for yet. ::

Yael: *If* you believe it may be beneficial in the long term, yes. The true answer may be if you are going to be put in a position where you will see or work with him often. Otherwise… laying low may well be in order. It’s your determination to make.

::Kellan smiled ruefully into his coffee cup.::

Kellan: I’ll be seeing him every day. Maybe I should bring on the showdown.

:: Ashley couldn’t help a slight chuckle, but his expression translated into “oh no.” ::

Yael: That may well take the answer out of your hands, then.

::Yes, it did, rather, didn’t it?::

Kellan: The only thing that makes this more complicated is that I still love him. I don’t think I ever lost that. But I know I can’t just walk right up to him and tell him that, otherwise there’ll be a boxing match for real, probably. I do want to fix this, preferably in a way that makes things better for him, but if there’s any chance of a salvage operation then I’d like to try to take it.

Yael: Then, if I might make a suggestion…?

::He’d been hoping he might say that.::

Kellan: Please do.

Yael: Whatever you may think *you* want from him is aside the issue of *his* mindset concerning you. With this in mind, I would suggest you attempt to… play the chameleon. Blend back into his view without making waves. Allow him to show you what he does… or does not… want from you. Give him the time he needs to process your presence. I do not believe it will be long before he tells you, verbally or otherwise, where he stands. You can make your move from there.

::So, in other words, let Richard take control and take things at his own pace.::

Kellan: That sounds like it might work. ::He felt a little encouraged.:: It’s definitely worth a shot. So, you think do the showdown thing first so he can get some stuff out of his system and then try to take it easy? Play things by ear?

Yael: “Showdown” might be a bit dramatic. ::smiling at the man:: However badly things ended, it’s possible your expectations might be a little exaggerated. I doubt you’ll be pulling your six-shooters.

:: He was trying to say this kindly while still being brutally honest. ::

Yael: Approaching him may well see you rebuffed, rather than rebuked. But yes, I do think you should approach him. Make certain he knows you are not ignoring him… then allow him the space to decide what he needs and wants.

::Kellan stopped to think for a moment. He had been predicting some kind of apocalypse, or a beat down in the corridor, hadn’t he? It wasn’t so much that he was afraid of that happening as it was that he wouldn’t have blamed Richard if he reacted that way. Whatever had happened between them, he knew he wouldn’t hurt him, not in that way.::

::In fact, it struck him that this was really the only thing that he was really afraid of right now. The fear of rejection. He needed to face it head on, like he had everything else, and be prepared to play the long game to prove to Richard that he could trust him again. If that led to friendship rather than anything else then he would have to live with it. In the meantime, he also needed to keep on top of his duties and continue to capitalise on all of the progress he’d made over the last year.::

Yael: Depending on his response, it may require stoicism on your part. Be prepared for anything, but expect nothing… that’s more of a personal policy of mine, admittedly.

::It was sage advice again, and he would certainly give it his best. He’d learned to cope with pain, negative emotions, irrational fears… maybe this could be tackled in a similar way.::

Kellan: I think I can do stoicism. We can talk about this in future sessions, can’t we? I think it’ll be easier to hold everything in if there’s somewhere to let them out again at some point.

Yael: Certainly. I’m here whenever you feel you need me.

::Well then anything was possible, wasn’t it? Taking the risks Kellan was going to take would be a much easier thing to do if he knew there would be someone he could talk to afterwards.::

Kellan: Thanks. I appreciate that. I’ll let you know how everything goes.

:: Taking that as a cue, Ashley set his mug to the table. There was a slight clanking sound as it hit the table, jittering slightly in a somewhat unsteady grip, but it did not spill. Moving on as if all was well, Ashley stood and smiled one last time at his guest. ::

Yael: Please do so. It would be good to hear this situation has been resolved for you.

:: Allowing Kellan to depart, the Denobulan-hybrid opened the man’s file and began taking notes, logging his recommendations and other details that might be important down the line. It was nice to start off with a crewmember he didn’t have to hunt down first. ::

::Meanwhile, as Kellan walked down the corridor, he felt as though he’d just been given an in to solving what had looked like an insurmountable problem. He would have to expect setbacks, but maybe he wasn’t staring into an irreparable rift after all.::

A JP by

Ensign Ashley Yael

Counselor

Starbase 118

&

Lieutenant Kellan Joran

Chief Engineer

Starbase 118

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