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Lieutenants Valin Dermont & Ishkabela Journs: I'll Take That As A Compliment

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((Corridor, USS Atlantis))

{{Day 15 of Shoreleave  }}

Dermont found himself fidgeting with the pips on his collar as he walked his way through the corridor.  He would never admit it, but there was a part of him that was a bit self-conscious. All of the ensigns that joined the ship around the same time as him were all Lieutenant Commanders and some of the senior-most leadership on board the Atlantis.  And all of the people he still considered the “new guys” were mostly the same rank as he was.  It stung a bit.

Dermont:  oO Wait a minute there, Valin.  Aren’t ya the man tellin’ em time and time again that ya didn’t want any more responsibility?  That man that bailed on ‘is counselin’ sessions, throwin’ stuff ‘bout the Engineerin’ Bay, and constantly pawned off yer department reports ta Yelchin and Kiliak? Oo

Also Dermont: oO Shaddup Oo

Logic had no place in a frustrated man’s head. He grunted a bit to himself and headed into sickbay.

((Sickbay Complex, USS Atlantis))

Though she was still feeling out of sorts, she was glad to be off of the suppressants. They’d given her a fair few nasty headaches. The other symptoms had begun to fade within a day or two and for the first time since returning from Valcaria, she was able to focus without that nagging itch under her skin flaring up just enough to make her want to toss a PADD at a monitor. 

After a few days on medical leave, she was more behind than she would have liked. She hadn’t completely finished her mission report on the cadmium poisoning on Valcaria. Between how her own exposure had flared up her asthma followed by her unexpected first season, her focus just hadn’t been sharp enough. She’d needed to request an extension from the Captain due to extenuating circumstances. 

Taking a sip of her specially ordered and specially brewed Al-Leyan kievlan coffee, she entered another note into the PADD in her hand. However, the sound of the doors opening caught her attention and she set both the PADD and the coffee down to greet the new arrival.

Journs: ::smiles:: Hi. What can I do for you?

Dermont: ::not smiling:: Apparently, when ye’ve been out n’ ‘bout as long as I ‘ave, ye’ve got ta have the doc tell ‘em yer good ta go before resumin’ duties. 

Journs: ::nods and motions to one of the biobeds:: If you’ll hop up on one of the beds, I’ll be with you in a moment.

Dermont:  O’course.

As the man made himself comfortable, she turned on her heel and took two steps to receive a medical tricorder sitting on a tray and a PADD to look up his records.

Journs: ::pauses:: Valin Dermont, right?

Dermont:  Yes ma’am.  Been a bit since we’ve seen each other.

Journs: ::nods and smiles:: It has. You were on the bridge the first day I came aboard.

Dermont nodded at that comment.  Indeed he was.  And it didn’t take a telepath to know what was going on in his dear friend Raga’s mind when she had first stepped off the turbolift.  Mr. Heartbreak seeing another Al-leyan on board?  While Raga was no doubt seeing stars, Dermont was seeing the doctor for what see was truly going to be.  Drama.

Of course, then he was shipped out and away.  So who knows what series of unfortunate events had happened since then.

Dermont:  Yes ma’am, I was.  Ya don’t tend ta forget seein’ another Al-leyan come on board.  Two on a single starship?  Yer more likely ta see a stable trinary star system.

Journs: ::smiles and nods:: Yes, I admit I was surprised myself.

Dermont:  I’m sure it’s chance beyond chance, really.  Ya just happened ta arrive on a ship whose second officer is Toryn Raga.  Anyway, get yer scannin’ done so I can see what in the hell Kiliak’s done with ma engines.

She arched an eyebrow at the man, recalling how he’d grumbled with Toryn on the bridge that day. She’d seen plenty of his type even with so few years in Starfleet under her belt. From what she could tell, he was more bark than bite and mostly grumbled for the sake of it.

Journs: My “scanning” requires you to sit still and be patient, Lieutenant.

Dermont: oO Oh, a hint of a back bone in there, eh? Oo

Dermont on the best of days tolerated doctors as he was not so stupid as to dismiss their value.  He also happened to have little patience for those who would bring drama or pain to those he considered his.  Engineering was his, this ship was his.  Raga was his friend.  Hell, Serala was his...friend?  I mean he was certain she was not an enemy.  He was still pretty sure Stevok mind-whammied her anyway.

Dermont: oO Point ‘ere is that Journs was both doc and someone who could prob’ly bring ‘ole ‘eaps o’ drama down on the lad. Oo

Dermont:  You and I barely know each other, lass.  I just want ya ta check out mah knee and make sure mah ‘earts still tickin’.  But know I’ve got a soft spot fer the Commander and all I’m sayin’ is he doesn’t need no damnable drama from home.

Journs: ::expression softens and murmurs:: I know. Rest assured I don’t intend to bring any if I can help it.

There were plenty of angles it could come from, but she had a feeling she knew what Valin was implying. Toryn wasn’t a typical Al-Leyan and a more traditional Al-Leyan woman would have quite possibly sent a message back to the Council by now about Toryn’s intimate involvement with an outsider and his dangerous, reckless disregard for his own life. However, she was far from a typical Al-Leyan herself.

Dermont:  That’s good ta hear, doctor.  Branches be damned.  The lad’s choices are the lad’s own to make.  ::He gave a sideways glance at the doctor.::  Even if some would consider them mistakes...

Journs: ::pauses:: While I can’t make any promises about things that are out of my control, I can promise that I’m not here to police anything Toryn does or says in the process of fulfilling his duties to this ship nor am I here to pass judgment on any personal moral or ethical choices he makes. 

Dermont simply nods.  Another Al-leyan corrupted by the Federation ideals then, eh? Once you see how bigotry and oppression look from the other side, it’s hard to stay true to the fantasy you were raised in.

Journs: ::lips tighten:: Not that it’s your business, but I love Toryn and it would tear me to pieces if he were hurt in any way.

That made the engineer stiffen upon hearing.  Love?  She loved Toryn?  What in the blazes had happened in the last few months?  Love?!  Sure, he knew with Al-Leyan culture they might naturally gravitate toward one another, but what kind of ridiculousness was she spouting about love?

Dermont:  Wait now just a tad bit there, lass.  Those words are pretty damned powerful. Love? Ye’ve been ‘ere fer a few months and now suddenly ya get ta throw ‘round that word?

It wasn’t an unexpected reaction. Back home, it wasn’t a word that was ever used with any serious intent. Certainly Al-Leyans experienced love...but not in the same way as other cultures. Most Al-Leyan relationships were fleeting, some lasting a few months and others not even a season. There were a decent number who stayed with a partner for years, but these weren’t very common.

The older engineer’s voice began to raise as his voice turned to a scowl.

Dermont:  Doctor...I know Al-leyans are a little loose when it comes ta the idea of sexual encounters, but let me assure ya, there’s a lot more ta love than that!  Do you ‘ave any idea ‘ow many times that lad’s ‘ad his soul crushed due to romantic attachments!?  

Dermont:  oO Yer a right [...], Valin… Oo

The man’s raised voice didn’t phase her. After dealing with her father’s soul-wrenching silence and lack of empathy, a loud voice wouldn’t rattle her. 

Journs: ::meets his gaze:: I respect that you are Toryn’s friend and I respect that you’re just looking to protect him. I honestly hope that with time, you see that Toryn isn’t just a game to me.

The engineer frowned as the woman didn’t flinch while he raised his voice.  Intimidating people by yelling a Dermont trademark and he was unsure of how to deal with it.  Usually people left his immediate vicinity or started shouting back.  He gave the doctor a level stare.

Journs: I’m not looking for a minute flirtation. ::lips tighten:: If anything, I’m afraid that Toryn will find someone else and I’ll be left behind. As I said to Captain Logan, where he goes, I go, even if that means walking into the fire with him and getting burned by it. There’s not a thing in this universe that I wouldn’t endure for him.

oO I think she might mean it…what in the ‘ell. Oo

Dermont:  Doctor, yer the most unAl-leyan Al-leyan that I’ve met.  I’ve studied a bit o’ your culture….tryin’ ta understand Toryn and ‘is clear bouts of self-loathin’ that ‘e goes through.  I think I’ve got the nail on the ‘ead with ‘is idea of “cultural contamination.” ::he nearly spat the words.:: I am glad someone makes ‘im ‘appy.

She relaxed some, sensing the change in the man’s tone, a slight smile crossing her lips. Any other Al-Leyan would have been insulted. But a part of her took it as a compliment. Her years away from home, it seemed, were only reinforcing the idea that conformity wasn’t everything. Though she knew not all of her friends here understood her beliefs and values, she was grateful that they accepted her willingly in spite of them.

Journs: ::gaze drops and she nods, then murmurs:: I try.

Dermont puts up a hand to ward off any lovey-dovey much she might try to keep peddling his way.  He stood up, despite his check-up not being complete.

Dermont:  Ye’ll think I’m an [...] fer it...and maybe I am.  It is clear by the way ya talk you two are in love.  But let’s give it a few more months before ya try and move it along, eh?  Let’s make sure he loves ya fer you...and not just because ya ‘appen ta be the only “culturally acceptable” choice on the ship, eh?

The comment stung and it struck at her greatest fear. She was certain he hadn’t meant to insult or hurt her. He was just looking out for his friend. It was something they had in common and was what made it easier for her to push aside the emotional reaction and take what he was saying at face value. 

She didn’t need his approval. She didn’t need anyone’s. She and Toryn were adults and could engage in a relationship as they saw fit. It was their responsibility to sort through their problems, not everyone else’s. If they couldn’t figure things out without bringing in a third party that didn’t even close to know the more intimate details and nuances of their relationship, they shouldn’t be in one together in the first place.

With that he spun on his heels and headed towards the door.  He’d get cleared by somebody else at a later time.  Something was telling Dermont he might have just worn out his welcome.

Dermont: oO Lad jumps so fast...someone’s gotta make sure it’s the real damn thing… Oo

Still Dermont:  oO And it just ‘as ta be you, eh Valin? Oo

He frowned to himself, clenching his fists at his own loud-mouth and headed through the door.

She stared after him for a long moment. Only when she glanced down at the tricorder in her hand did she realize they hadn’t finished his appointment. A slight smile crossed her lips in spite of the mild discomfort she was now feeling in the aftermath of what had been a very awkward conversation. 

It was clear Toryn had the respect and affection of many, including the gruff engineer. That made her even more determined to consciously work to keep from hurting Toryn. Today had been another hurdle in the battle she was waging with herself over whether this was the right thing. There were forces threatening to tear them apart, but she was coming to realize that love wasn’t an obligation, but a choice...a choice that was made consciously every day in spite of the hardships. 

A choice she’d continue to make each day, no matter what came their way.



Lieutenant Valin Dermont


USS Atlantis



Lieutenant Ishkabela Journs

Medical Officer 

USS Atlantis, NCC-74682


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