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Lt. Commander Whittaker: Like A Prayer

Sal Taybrim

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(( St. Peter's Cathedral, Ashalla District, Starbase 118 ))
(( Several Days Later - Before the Party ))
:: Theo Whittaker was not a spiritual person by any means which was why he was perplexed as to why he currently found himself sat in one of the many wooden pews of the cathedral in silent contemplation. The air was tinged with the sweet scent of incense that was coming from the gently swinging thurible held by a member of the cathedral's staff. Around him there were low murmured chants of prayer from a group of nuns.
He had not stepped foot inside a Christian church since he was seven years old when his father had taken him to the cathedral on Archer IV in order for him to be baptised. It was not because he had a problem with the idea of religious that so many Starfleet officers he had encountered seemed to have, but because he equated the Christian faith with his father, a man that he loved and hated in equal measure. They had never gotten along, especially after Theo dared to defy his wishes and applied to Starfleet instead of devoting himself to a life of academia.
He could not remember deciding to find solace in the quiet of the cathedral, instead he had found himself there after going for a walk to clear his turbulent mind. Before he knew it he was inside and looking up at the beautiful stained glass windows. Here, he found he could forget the fact that he was on a starbase, or the painful events of the last several weeks- of the last year which had seen him lurch from one catastrophe to another; Providence, Avronis V, Chennel, Estava, Haz Arrihman and Tilanna. A litany of chaos marked his brief career in Starfleet, so much so though that he found it difficult to appreciate the positives: all the wonderful friends he had made, his promotion... Baylen. 
His sombre reverie was interrupted by the realisation that he was not alone. Turning his head, he found himself sat next to a kindly looking nun who head was bowed in prayer. When had she arrived?
After several seconds, she finished her prayer and smiled, turning to look at him. ::
Sister Monica Julienne: It is so peaceful here at this time of day, is it not?
Whittaker: :: nodding :: It is indeed sister.
:: She studied him for a moment with a sympathetic look on her face. ::
Sister Monica Julienne: Your soul is heavy Commander Whittaker.
Whittaker: Um, how do you know who I am?
:: He knew it was a stupid question as soon as he had uttered it. Surprisingly, instead of chastising him, she smiled brightly, so brightly in fact that her whole face seemed to light up. ::
Sister Monica Julienne: I may be just a nun devoted to his service but I do make a point to keep myself and my fellow sisters informed of less heavenly matters. :: she reached forward and placed a hand on his :: You are lost.
Whittaker: :: thick with emotion, whispering :: H-how do you know?
Sister Monica Julienne: You have been sat here for nearly an hour and a half Commander :: beat :: And I can recognise when somebody is need of support.
Whittaker: W-who are you?
Sister Monica Julienne: My name is Sister Monica Julienne of the Sisters of the Community of Saint John the Divine. :: beat :: We serve the lord here in this cathedral, although sometimes we help those who need it.
Whittaker: :: the lump in his throat was growing and he had to take several breaths to steady himself :: I- I don't know what to say.
Sister Monica Julienne: Say nothing then Commander. :: beat :: Or would you prefer to call you Theo?
Whittaker: Theo...
Sister Monica Julienne: What pains you, Theo?
Whittaker: :: he was suddenly uncomfortable, acutely aware he was sat in a place of worship for a religion he did not follow. His eyes darted towards the exit. :: I-I should go.
Sister Monica Julienne: Why? Because you do not believe? :: beat :: You do not need to to talk.
:: And so Theo spoke. He told her of watching the Orion woman dying infront of him and how it was the latest in a long line of traumas he had suffered during his brief career in Starfleet, of making first contact with "Providence"- a dangerous weapons delivery system and the frightened little girl at the heart of it, the details of his brutal assault by an Iconian, the torture he suffered at the hands of Chennel aboard her pirate ship and the frightening visions he had as Columbia orbited a Romulan colony world. As he recounted each horror, his voice grew fraught as the memories became increasinly painful.
To her credit, Sister Monica Julienne took it in her stride, even as Theo began to sob, letting all the pain and anguish flow through his tears. She took him in a kindly embrace and held him until the tears stopped flowing. He sat up and dried his eyes and whispered an apology. ::
Sister Monica Julienne: There is no need to apologise. Your burden is great. :: beat :: Crying is not a sign of weakness.
Whittaker: :: sniffing :: It's... not what I was brought up to believe.
Sister Monica Julienne: Tell me, have you thought of praying? :: beat :: Even if you don't believe in the lord, you can still ask a higher being for help.
Whittaker: I-I hadn't.
Sister Monica Julienne: Then try.
:: She smiled and Theo knelt prostate and did so. When he finished, he looked up to find the kindly nun was nowhere to be seen- and felt a sense of wonder. ::
Lieutenant  Commander Theo Whittaker
Executive Officer
Starbase 118 Operations
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