((Junior Officer’s Quarters – USS Constitution-B))
The atmosphere was warm, dry and lit dimly by the ambient lights that cycled on the power saving mode of a ship deep within its own internal repair cycle. And like the ship that sheltered them from the black and cold of the vacuum of space, so many of its passengers were broken and battered either in body, mind or spirit – sometimes all three – and cycling down to rest, relax and desperately repair.
A thin haze of incense wafted through the room, a soft scent of musk and sand. It reminded him of his home world – one of them. Like the high arid plains of Vulcan.
The solo figure knelt in the center of the room, a few thin regeneration patches for some low-grade electrical burns were the only badges of injury he visibly bore on his thin form. Some might say he had been lucky. He might agree.
And yet his mind still pounded with a continual cycle of pain. Sometimes sharp and stabbing, more often dull and throbbing. Like waves crashing on the shore there was an ebb and flow, eased by sleep and hydration to a point, but always creeping back up in short order.
Doctors assured him the mild head trauma would heal. There was always a trackable amount of cranial swelling and blood vessel changes that caused temporary pain. They offered analgesics. He had accepted, but was careful to take them, wanting to settle some of his rampant thoughts before he muted himself too much with drugs or sedatives.
Taking a deep breath in, he was still. Trying to feel the weight of his body, concentrate on where his body was in contact with the deck and where his hands rested on his legs.
~Disconnect from your thoughts.~
He tried to pull back, allow his thoughts to move freely across his mental landscape and sit as an observer. This was a technique that had given him clarity in the past, allowing him to objectively visualize his emotions and understand what caused them and how to understand them more.
~Stay back and observe~
His breath hitched in his throat as he felt his consciousness sinking into a vast black pit. It was not the calm disconnect from his thoughts and emotions that he usually was able to achieve with time and effort, but a violent jerk backwards as if black tentacles were reaching out from an inky depth to pull him under.
He felt like he was drowning.
He could feel his heartrate spike and his face grew hot. His airway constricted to make each breath labored as he tried to draw it through his swollen throat and his mind twisted that into the feeling of sucking in tar. Pitching forward from his meditative position, he started coughing, but no water drained from his mouth. One hand formed a claw around his chest, digging in as the coughing fit rose in intensity until finally it reached a hoarse guttering rasp. Tears drained from his eyes and a ghost echoed through his brain.
Her laugh. Her damnable laugh.
It wasn’t stuck like a thorn in his psyche anymore, just a haunting memory. If he lingered too long on it, he could visualize himself falling down that well of interminable stairs, with her laughing at the top. Falling, always falling. Falling into a void where his calm should be.
Placing both hands on the floor, he pitched forward in a tabletop position and tried to concentrate. To stop the floor from spinning underneath him.
A wave of vertigo and nausea ran through his body as the room twisted giddily, and no amount of carefully controlled breathing exercises stopped it. A small whine escaped his lips and he slowly sank to one side and hugged his knees to his chest waiting for it to pass.
He was trying to find center. To seek calm and see things objectively. To do things the Vulcan way, the way his grandfather had lectured on, the way that would make him controlled and logical.
But all he wanted to do was sob like a stupid Human baby. Scream and yell and let the tears flow freely while swimming in a tidal wave of emotions that he could barely process. He wanted for someone to tell him it would be OK. Not now, not soon, but eventually. That with time it would ebb and recede and maybe, he would start to understand and grow stronger.
He compromised. Tears wet his knees as he struggled to control his breathing and strive for control. A little bit of both. Just enough to stave away the panic, not enough to feel a full release of the building pressure of emotion that he couldn’t process in his usual ways.
He was used to coming back to his quarters, expressing emotion, meditating, finding center and objectively gaining understanding. He had gotten much better at processing emotions in this way during his academy years, going from a deeply introverted, highly emotional first year cadet to a fairly stable, respected, friendly fourth year cadet known for his ability to work well with others. Each meditation was a step upwards and forwards, a chance to gain a better understanding of emotions and how to balance them with logic.
But now everything was thrown out of balance. He had more emotions to process than he could possibly comprehend, and his tried and true methods of processing them weren’t working.
Clearly not working from the fact that he was balled up on the floor of his quarters.
Slowly the room slowed and came to a stop. His head still hurt, but the feeling of sucking tar into his lungs was gone. He kept his eyes closed as he pushed himself back to his knees and pressed the palms of his hands into the sockets of his eyes, digging his thumbs into the pressure points at his temples until the pain faded. Ironically it was in these recovery periods where he felt the most grounded, focusing solely on stillness and breath, after the emotional wave was spent.
Maybe he should take the medications? He wavered on that. He had to eat first. Eating sounded disgusting after the room-spinning nausea. Maybe he should drink something. That he might be able to handle. Slowly, getting equilibrium under him, he took tentative steps to the replicator and ended up with a warm mug of mellow, unsweet tea.
The doorchime rang and he straightened as if prodded with one of those electrical rods at full power, mug slipping from his hands. A deep olive shade of shame colored his cheeks as he dropped to his knees to pick up the pieces.
He looked up, his dark eyes fixed on the doorway. The scent of meditation incense still lingered in the air, the rug was covered with the familiar slightly bitter scent of Mika, a traditional calming tea. Everything else was perfectly in its place, save the occupant. A rumpled uniform and bedraggled hair bespoke little sleep and too much movement for comfort. An unsettled mind.
His eyes fixed on the older Vulcan and his jaw tightened against a new wave of emotion. Was he relieved? Embarrassed? Both? All at the same time he wanted the support and succor of someone to help guide him through this and yet was ashamed of his own state at the moment.
He opted for soft politeness that was offset by his rather precarious position in gathering up the pieces of the teacup.
So’Mior: Commander, greetings. Please, come in. Sit?
His fingers fumbled for the last piece of shattered mug, rolling it along the wet rug instead of picking it up gracefully. And, like his scattered thoughts he finally captured it and got it with the others to take to the recycler.
So’Mior: I was startled. ::He stated it as honestly as possible. Not ‘you startled me’ – there was no reason to find anger nor fault in a doorchime. No, the fault – and the fault lines – were drawn within him.:: It will mend.
He placed the pieces in the recycler and watched them fade into raw materials.
Slowly he turned towards the first officer, his expression was lost and searching.
So’Mior: I… I don’t know.
Finally he moved himself from his lean by the recycler to a chair, which he sank down into with a steady exhausted bonelessness.
So’Mior: I can’t… I can’t process it. I can’t find calm. I try and I feel like I’m drowning.
If the hoarse tone to his voice said anything, feel like might be eerily accurate.
pNPC Ensign So’Mior