“Let’s start with the most obvious question, Miss Trov-..”
“Arys.”, the man on the other side of the desk nodded benevolently as he chose to follow the request of using her first name. He was aged but his eyes were alert and dark, betraying his species. Then again, Arys pondered, it might as well be a cosmetic adjustment, but he didn’t seem the type for it. Betazoid was a lot more likely, and a lot more common in this field of work too - a fact Arys hated because it made her feel a little inferior.
“I would like to know what prompted your choice to move away from medicine and towards counselling.”, he asked eventually and raised a greying eyebrow. Arys took a deep breath. She had thought about this a lot, and she had prepared for this exact question, but now her mind was blank as if someone had deleted the file containing her carefully curated answer, and then the backup, and the backup of the backup. “….Something happened.”, she said eventually. A few moments of silence later she realised that she should probably elaborate, even if the man looked at her with infinite patience. “So.. a few months ago… I am working in the maternity ward. A quiet night, but I am on-call, so I decide to sit in my office, read a book or catch up on a few notes, you know?” He nodded as if he himself often spent his on-call nights in such a manner, if he even had such a thing as on-call nights. When he didn’t say anything, Arys continued. “I am not even supposed to be working that night. I took over for a colleague who was feeling a little ill. While I work I decide to check my PADD for any private messages I left unanswered during my week. I work a lot and sometimes I forget to let people know I still exist. There is nothing and I am about to put the PADD down again, when at that exact moment I notice a new incoming message. I open it and it’s from my brothers best friend. I have no idea why he writes me, and I am about to check and send it back telling the idiot that this is Arys, not Aron…” The man makes a note, and Arys reminded herself that she should avoid words like ‘idiot’, even if she is pretty sure they are more of a coping mechanism than malice. “Does that happen a lot, Arys? That you get messages not meant for you?”, he asked. She shook her head. “No. So this is weird, right? Anyway I open the message and it’s only four words. I’m done. Goodbye, Aron.” She paused for a moment to collect her thoughts. “… Well what was I supposed to do? I write him back, tell him I’m available to talk, and remind him that I am a doctor.” “But not a councillor.” “But not a councillor.”, she confirms. “Well okay I didn’t say that. I just told him I’m a doctor. So while I am desperately trying to figure out what to do, he calls me. He looks horrible, he’s been crying and drinking, just broke up with his girlfriend. On the one side I am not more qualified to talk to him than I am to build a Warp-core, but he thinks I am, and that’s good enough for both of us. He’s fine now.” The man nods slowly, making another note. “That was something you can be proud of. Not everyone would be willing to step up, and even less people would do it as well as you clearly did.” She smiled, and even blushed a little. She was proud of this. “Did you consider that sending you the message might not have been an accident”, he asked, tilting his head at her. Arys frowned. She had not. “No… I mean.. people talk to me about things, sometimes. I guess I am just that kind of friend, you know? The one you don’t invite to your birthday party but seek out when you are in trouble” He makes another note. “Perhaps you want to talk about that more, at some stage. But I am wondering… is one positive experience enough to change your career path so completely. From mothers and infants to counselling, in Starfleet non the less?” “Don’t get me wrong, I love my current job. Brats and twa-… uh… babies are great. And I understand it looks like a whim and a really bad idea, but… a lot of times I wish I was more qualified to help with the emotional side of things, not just the medical one. I think I could make an impact.” “I see.”, said the man thoughtfully, his eyes still fixed on her. Maybe her words were lacking, but he seemed to be able to sense how important this was to her, even if she couldn’t phrase it in a convincing manner.
Four - no, let’s be truthful - five years later, Arys remembered this meeting fondly as her first step towards a career in Starfleet, and she couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. But as much as part of her wished to head back to Starfleet Academy, where she had spent some of the best years of her life, she was headed to Starbase 118.
The shuttle dropped out of warp and she got a good first look at the the thing. She had been to Deep Space Nine before, and was relieved that Starbase 118 didn’t also look like an evil but oddly fascinating jellyfish. Cardassian design surely was an acquired taste. She smiled nicely enough at the cadets who eagerly shared their excitement with her, but did her best not to engage in conversation. She could see that the Bajoran who had been sitting a few seats away from her, kept eyeing her curiously and tried to get her attention. The Bajoran moved her hand to her own earring, probably wondering why Arys wasn’t wearing one. Arys did not feel like elaborating on her choice of… accessories. She had this discussing with her mother at least once a month, or she would have if she spoke to her that regularly. Either way she really didn’t feel like explaining herself to a random stranger who she shared half a species with, even if the other half - human - didn’t exactly have features that would give it away. Maybe she was just really bad at being Bajoran since she didn’t go to the temple either.
She found a place overlooking the promenade, and decided to just stand here for a moment and observe people. It was an interesting mix of species, shops, cultures. Busy and buzzing, and in many ways not unlike any given day at Academy. There were friends reconnecting, Cadets like her nervously waiting for instructions, and more seasoned officers trying not to smirk or pity them. Arys felt old, which was a weird feeling when she considered that some species grew three-hundred years old while others only lived for three. She rolled her eyes at her own behaviour and reminded herself that she always felt this way about new places, and that she would adjust. She took a deep breath, and decided to find someone to introduce herself to and be social with.