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Lt Vance Sheridan, "A difficult patient"

Sedrin Belasi

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((USS Einstein, Counsellor's Office, Stardate 239109.15))
::One month. These appointments had been going on for one month. Vance was friendly and optimistic and he could get on with anyone, but he was finding Ensign Kellan Joran to be impenetrable. He'd tried talking. He'd tried not talking. He'd tried adjusting the lighting and temperature in the office to make it seem brighter and more welcoming, or to seem less formal and more relaxing. Whatever he did, he was met with the same impassive expression, and he was running out of ideas.::
::Reading through Kellan's files hadn't helped, either. There was precious little information for anything prior to his service aboard the USS Vigilant. It looked like he'd led a relatively mundane life, and then been placed there as his first assignment from the academy. There was a perturbing entry about some kind of an alien social experiment on his file, in which the unfortunate Ensign had been unconsentingly assigned the role of a patient in a mental asylum, and that was worrying. The record read like a storybook as much as anything else and it looked like Kellan's therapy had been signed off to various other members of the crew rather than to one specific counsellor. Chances were extremely high that his current catatonic state was related to that incident, but he had been serving without problems for months before it had happened. Trauma could take a long while to surface, of course, so perhaps the Bajoran's failure to turn up for his shift for a full day and his violent reaction when medical staff had entered his quarters to check on him weren't so difficult to explain after all.::
::Mentioning 'Ravensville', the name assigned to the alien experiment, had been the only real mistake Vance had made. Kellan had become anxious and had started to pace around the room, wide-eyed. When the Bajoran had headed for the door, Vance hadn't stopped him, and he'd quickly been picked up by the non-commissioned officers who waited outside during each of his appointments. The medic had administered a hypospray and Kellan had been taken back to his quarters, otherwise unharmed. Yet despite that, it was Vance's hope that he would be able to assist the stricken officer in returning to duty. There had to be a way through.::
::And so he'd decided to pick one tactic and stick with it. Kellan had been the subject in an experiment, and his confidence had been completely undermined. The word 'humiliation' was insufficient to cover what had happened. It looked very much like he had been robbed of his humanity. Treating him like a normal person rather than a patient seemed like the best way to go and when the breakthrough was made, Vance was just going to have to find a way to sneak in some treatment under the radar. He would have to think on his feet, and be very careful in the process. He had to earn Kellan's trust, and then show him that he wasn't going to break it.::
::This time when Kellan was brought to the counselling office, Vance was wearing casual attire. White slash neck t-shirt, covered with a dark blue cotton jacket, and a pair of comfortable black pants. He was sat on one end of the office sofa with a mug of Tarkelian tea in his hand, just as he would in his own quarters. There were no PADDs in view; everything was filed away, and even the terminal on the desk was deactivated. When he entered, Kellan almost seemed to stop in his stride for just a moment, a little suspicious of what was happening. His face quickly regained the impassive look that Vance was used to seeing, though, and the young officer took up his usual position on the other end of the sofa.::
Vance: Hey, Kellan. I figured you could maybe use a break from all the uniforms and regulations for a while, so I decided we should just hang out instead of having a formal session. Let me get you a cup of tea as well, unless there's something else you'd rather have?
::Undeterred, Vance walked to the replicator, ordered some more tea, and then carried it over to the table next to Kellan's seat. He took care not to step too close to him so that his personal bubble was left intact.::
Vance: ::Returning to his own seat:: I know you haven't really felt like talking lately, so I thought I'd maybe try just talking to you. It must get lonely being cooped up in your quarters for so long. I know I wouldn't like that very much.
::Still nothing.::
::Having spent part of the afternoon considering ways he could fill potential silences, Vance launched right into the one that he thought might give him the best shot at making some headway. When it came down to it, Kellan had only been aboard the ship for a very short amount of time, and his breakdown had happened within a couple of days of his arrival. That meant he hadn't had any time to get to know Vance, and he really had no reason to trust him. For most officers, a Starfleet uniform would be enough, but it was clear that Kellan didn't fall into the 'most officers' category.::
Vance: I wanted to tell you a few things about me. I've been trying to get you to talk about yourself, and it seems pretty unfair that you should have to do that without even really knowing who I am. You know me as Counsellor Sheridan, but my name is Vance, and I was born on Earth. My uncle inspired me to join Starfleet with stories about my grandfather. I've been serving with the fleet for three years now, and I started with an internship at Starfleet Headquarters. I loved it there. The town I was born in gets pretty cold over the winter and is sometimes not much better in the summer, so being in San Francisco was great. After four years in the academy and the internship, I had to put on a second coat when I went back to visit my folks.
::He paused for a moment, in case memories of San Francisco stirred anything in his Bajoran patient. They didn't.::
Vance: I haven't been outside the Sol sector yet on duty, but I've had the chance to talk to members of quite a few different species already. Sometimes I feel like we should get a big checklist, so we can try to collect as many as possible and broaden our horizons. It's great hearing the different viewpoints of members of species you've never met before, and finding out the things that you do and don't have in common with them. In fact, just talking to anyone is fun. You get to hear their stories about where they've been and what they've done. It really brings Starfleet to life...
::He carried on just talking at Kellan about inocuous things like food, music, art, sports, his family back in Whitehorse and those who had travelled, and even brought up some of his school memories. Nothing seemed to be working, but he was determined to keep trying. If he had to spend another month or two at the drawing board before he came up with something then that was what he would do. In the end, a soft chime from the computer on his desk informed him that the appointment was over. The Bajoran would be coming back in a few days to fill his quota of two therapy sessions per week, so cutting his losses didn't seem like such a bad idea. There was something that he wanted Kellan to take away with him before next time, though.::
Vance: Looks like we're done for this week, but I'll be looking forward to our next meeting. I think it's going to turn out that we've both got things in common. We were probably both at the academy at the same time, or at least we seem to be not too far off the same age, so I get the impression we could turn out to be good friends.
::At the mention of that word, Kellan's eyes flicked towards Vance. They stayed on him for a good few seconds, before fixing themselves back on the office floor.::
Vance: oO Interesting... Oo
::It seemed that he'd finally got his in. Pretending to be friends with Kellan wouldn't necessarily do any good in the long run, but trying to make friends with him? Maybe that would work. Maybe this particular patient needed to feel as though there were people who cared about his welfare other than those who had to because it was their duty? As the doors opened and the non-coms arrived to take Kellan back to his quarters, Vance was already thinking about his next move. With a little luck, it wouldn't take another month to get through the next layer of armour.::
Lieutenant Vance Sheridan
Chief Counsellor

Starbase 118 Ops

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