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Lt Commander Foster - Sucker Punch


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((Tuggy the tugboat - Waters of Earth, 1914))

Foster: are we there yet?

Hael: Ya'know we ain't gonna be here much longer... We could just drive. :: He chuckled at the paddling doctor. ::

::Wyn Foster raised his head and offered Rustyy Hael a tight-lipped smile. Pause.

He turned stubbornly back to paddling.

By all outward appearances this was wholly because he was a contrary, stubborn jerk. Which as admittedly true - he was frequently any of those and sometimes all. But at this particular moment he was channeling a well of negative energy into something useful rather than using it to pace the deck, snapping profanities at whoever annoyed him the most.

It also gave him time to think.

At the moment the entire little team was exhausted, hungry and run down. Worse, despite having finished the mission on the planet, Wyn was quite sure that a bigger stack of problems awaited them when they returned to the ship. And while that was the overall cause of his aching muscles and the malaise in his emotional landscape, the particular blow he kept dwelling on was innocent as best.

Or at least innocently delivered. An offhanded tap that had hit home like a vicious sucker punch that preyed on all of Wyn's insecurities. All those things he hid under a coating of sarcasm and arrogant proclamations of genius.

William's words were etched in his mind, like the afterimage of bright lights burned into the retina after the eyes are closed. "Interesting, for a doctor that took the Hippocratic Oath you have an interesting arsenal at your disposal."

He had almost lost his temper right there. He had wanted to yell at Williams and let him know that cold-[...]ing a man with the butt of a gun was far more damaging than a drug that caused nausea and retching. Getting them to double over was a way to administer sedatives without anyone getting shot. And Wyn had the antidote close at hand. Those sailors were the easiest of the bunch - just drag them to cover and let them sleep.

But Williams was trying to be sneaky, they couldn't break their cover, and of course the Human hybrid simply assumed certain things. He probably didn't know the terrible tangles Wyn had already gotten into with authority over the murky definitions of 'right' and 'wrong' as they were curiously judged for people wearing teal.

And therein came Wyn's biggest problem: assumptions. Stereotypes. All doctors were soft and cuddly nice people who baked cookies and bandaged wounds, right? Or at the very least they were charismatic sweethearts like Jalana or demure researchers like Renos. Not sharp-tongued asshats like Foster. So what happened when one didn't fall into the boxes of what people expected a doctor to be? A difference in attitudes was one thing - a difference in fundamental morality was another. Wyn had been called upon to use his skills to protect life. To save life. To save innocents and prevent good people from getting hurt. And, attitude aside, he stuck to this oath with a dogged perseverance.

And yet his actions always seemed to be questioned. Even if it wasn't officially - it rarely was anymore - the social stigma of 'not being accepted' by fellow officers who were expecting a different sort of doctor was stinging.::

((Flashback - 10 months ago, Deep Space 26 - Temporary Quarters))

Foster: I quit!

::The word was barked at the viewscreen hot and heavy, while Wyn gripped the back of his chair with such fury that if chairs could protest this one would be whining. The world spun giddily around him as his one remaining antennae struggled to compensate.::

Jos: So easily?

::The man at the other end of the viewscreen was one of the few Andorians Wyn could claim to know in any capacity further than 'name, rank, serial number, and traded punches.' Lt Commander Jos had served on the USS Augury with his father, now he was Director Jos, of Starfleet medical.

And he was still every bit as scary as Wyn Foster remembered him from childhood.

While not physically imposing, the director has a presence about him that communicated the sort of gravitas that was only gained from over a decade serving on some of the most dangerous missions Starfleet could offer. Coupled with a faint lisping Andorian accent and eyes that could stare through your soul, it was like facing down a soft-spoken devil who somehow had your best interests at heart but was going to flay all the armor from your ego before helping you.::

Foster: It's not easy! ::The younger man protested, a petulant note entering his voice.::

::The director leaned his head to one side, one antennae perked forward, the other stayed upright and he stayed there for longer than Wyn felt was comfortable before he spoke again::

Jos: Giving up is always the cop out. ::He frowned very slowly:: I had heard you were a medical genius.

::That hurt. And Jos knew it hurt. He was staring the kid down openly and digging for the meaty center.::

Foster: ::He stayed stubbornly put behind the chair, as if it would shield him from the onslaught:: I was removed from my ship by a man I trusted. ::Of course he was avoiding answering the posed question, but in his round-about way of thinking it all made sense.:: I saved his life. ::fast:: Aneurysm, with infectious complications. Four and a half hours of surgery, only person who could have done it. And how am I repaid? Betrayal. ::That last word was spat towards the screen.::

::Director Jos' gaze softened fractionally. Admission meant they were getting somewhere - slowly - but moving. Wyn was, on the whole, easier to reach than his father; though still just as frustrating.::

Jos: Do you regret it? ::Such a simple question. Such a dangerous question.::

Foster: ::A deeply furrowed frown:: I don't know. ::beat:: I think he died that day. There, on the biobed. In fact I know he died - six seconds of clinical death before life support was activated. But the real question is; did the same person wake up? I always felt like I revived a monster rather than saved a person.

::Wyn shook his head. Such questions came dangerously close to concepts of playing God - something expressly forbidden in the medical trade.::

Jos: Not your call to make. ::plain and simple::

Foster: ::Throwing his hands up in the air:: I know! ::Bad move. His balance flipped him the middle finger and he stumbled ungraciously forward, finally landing in the chair. After a few more seconds of untangling his limbs, he turned back to the viewscreen, navy-flushed, with his entire argument deflated.:: I know... ::replied meekly:: Haven't we all taken oaths?

Jos: ::A light nod:: But an oath isn't a black and white rulebook. It's a promise, made by you, kept by you, and interpreted by you.

::Wyn frowned, squirming under the steady gaze of his superior.::

Foster: And I keep it.

Jos: ::light:: records would say otherwise.

Foster: ::color flushing into his neck:: Records are skewed! They're the perceptions of other people! Other people who don't understand what it's like! ::He took in a small breath as his tone changed from defensive to pleading:: So many lives are out there, hanging in the balance and there's never enough of you. You make choices - triage - who lives, who dies. And then, you have horrible people who you know will hurt others, and I just can't justify saving them, if all it will bring is more blood and misery.

Jos: ::searching:: How do you make that decision?

Foster: ::anguished:: You can't put a marker on it, Every situation is different. I make decisions and stick by them - and half the time I'm the only one acting while others stand back, not making the hard decisions! Right is right, wrong is wrong, and you save as many innocent people as you can.

::The director leaned back, considering everything with a masked expression. He already knew his endgame, and they were getting ever closer to it::

Jos: Hypothetically, if you were faced with another surgery on the crew that evicted you. ::he left that open ended - it was not Wyn Foster's first transfer. He was amassing quite a colorful record of arguments and misunderstandings to his name:: What would you do?

Foster: ::disheartened:: Help them. They're Starfleet officers until someone rules otherwise. I would have to, it's what you do.

Jos: ::He perked a slender snowy brow:: And the man you consider a monster? If he was laying on your biobed? ::Pressing a bit too hard, looking for something::

::Wyn's eyes floated to the floor. He already knew the answer, but for some reason the words stuck in his mouth and didn't want to be spit out. Not because they were bad words. They were vulnerable words. Words that exposed a tender meaty center under a callous shell, something that could be exploited to cause a great deal of pain.::

Foster: I'd save his life again... ::dropped from his lips in a hoarse tone::

Jos: Why?

::Dropped so lightly, and yet it struck home so hard. Wyn clenched his teeth and looked pointedly at the floor.

It was a reaction the director found childish. And he was a man with two grown children of his own. Inwardly he smiled, knowing he was very close to his goal, but outwardly his expression remained in stone.::

Jos: Wyn, look at me and tell me why.

::Slowly, reluctantly, he lifted his head and spoke in a tiny tone::

Foster: Because every time you try, there's the hope that the person who wakes up is ... better. Not just in body, but in mind and soul. ::tears welled at the bottom of his eyes. Hope was a fragile gift, and to hold it up to the light exposed it to the greatest pain.::

::Silence fell between them for a second, enough time to make Wyn feel sick to his stomach, before the director nodded.::

Jos: And that is why I'm fronting your dismissal for a full appeal.

::Wyn's jaw dropped. He had expected the book thrown at him, not a chance for redemption.::

Foster: ...why?

Jos: ::with a light smirk, he revisited the beginning of the conversation.:: I had heard you were a medical genius.

::Wyn closed his eyes, face turning deeply navy as the tears that were hanging around unshed dribbled down his cheeks.::

Foster: ::mustering a tiny bit of his usual bravado:: I am a medical genius.

Jos: I trust Starfleet needs a little genius on the front lines. ::A warmth entered his tone:: I trust this means you are not quitting?

Foster: ::he took in a breath. He had been played, and played perfectly. And somehow he didn't mind:: Yes, director.

Jos: Good. ::a nod:: Do not despair, I will see to it that this is addressed quickly.

::The call had ended shortly afterward, leaving Wyn's head spinning a little. He never understood the machinations of Starfleet, only knowing he was usually on the losing end of moves and transfers. Who knew where this one would lead?::

~*~

((Tuggy the tugboat - Waters of Earth, 1914))

::Oddly enough, Wyn had gotten his chance at redemption. Here he was, chief medical officer again - and with the same crew since the launch of the Conny.

He wavered, paddle dipped into the water, struggling with his own thoughts of the past. The future - whatever it was now, wondering what would come from here. In many ways he felt that every day lately was a crossroads. On one hand he was growing in comfort with his crewmates on the Constitution - on the other, he feared getting too comfortable because that's usually when one got burned the worst.

Step forward, step backwards? Close off, open up or move on?

He didn't want to think to hard on that. Only on the dip and paddle.::



Lt Commander Shar'Wyn Foster
Chief Medical Officer
USS Constitution-B

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