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JP Ensign Yael & 2Lt. Meeks - Glass People

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((Starbase 118 - Marine Facilities, Lt. Meeks’ Office))


The typical day for a Marine involved many things, which included duty rotations, training, maintenance of equipment and the facilities, and whatever else needed to be done. For the company commander, the duties also included a ton of paperwork, reports, and recording all of the things done by the teams. For Tony, he felt he spent a lot more time doing the paperwork than actually doing the other stuff, so any chance to get his hands dirty made him jump at the opportunity.


On this morning, Tony was at his desk (as usual), going over the training reports, checking on the progress of his team, and preparing future trainings based upon reports from the CIC. This allowed the teams to train for whatever may come, and prepare for whatever contingencies possible. He received a constant stream of messages over his PADD, and most of them only required a passing glance before they could be deleted and dismissed. One message caught his eye though, and he paused to read it a little more carefully. The message was from the last person he had expected to contact him, and even more unusual was the subject of the message. While it wasn’t unusual for requests to be made for training tutoring, there were a few people he never expected to make that request. After pondering the message, he tapped in a response accepting the request, and sent it.


((Timeskip - Later that afternoon, Holodeck 3))


Stepping into the dilapidated but usable gym, Yael found the program had supplied everything needed.  Space, equipment, and the rudimentary padded floor.  It was well equipped but worn, as if it had been used for years with hardly a cleaning.


It was perfect.


He was warming up, stretching, when the door to the gym opened again.


Yael:  Anthony!  Thanks for coming.


He’d asked the man to meet him here, and to be ready for some training.  Admittedly, it might have been an odd thing for a counselor to say.  But this would also give Ashley a good chance to catch up with the man and see how he was doing since their last session.


Meeks:  Of course, counselor. Happy to help.


Yael:  Is this okay?  We could change programs if you prefer something else?


Meeks:  This’ll be fine. ::Looking around:: Your program?


Looking around at the peeling paint, the air smelling like effort and sweat.  He looked back to the Marine and [...]ed his head slightly to the side and smiled.

Yael:  I liked the ambiance.


Meeks:  Hey… ::Chuckling:: Whatever works.


Tony sized up the Denobulan. The man was small in stature, which was not unusual for a Denobulan, but the typically passive nature of the culture intrigued the Marine. He wondered why a counselor, and a Denobulan, would have a desire to train in the combat arts.


Meeks: So, what are we going to work on?


The Denobulan hybrid slid off the pull-over and tossed it onto the floor aside them.  The bruises on his arms and neck were probably still visible...  gifts from his encounter with the Klingon from Verriar’s establishment… but thanks to Cadet Harper, his ribs felt good and he was walking fine.  Now was time to choose a new aggressor… someone with the fortitude to literally punch past his defensive instincts.


Yael:  I need you to hit me.


Now that was a request Tony had never had before. He had been asked not to hit someone, but to be asked to hit someone made him pause. Looking at the bruises that were visible on the man, he figured this wasn’t exactly the first time that request had been made by him.


Meeks:  ::Surprised by the request:: You want me to… what? Why?


Yael:  ::smiling again::  So I can learn how not to get hit.


Meeks:  Well, judging from those bruises, you’ve been getting hit a lot lately.


The Denobulan tried not to smile suspiciously as he gave a quick thought to how he’d gained them.


Yael:  I’m pale.  It makes them more apparent.  Don’t let that stop you.


Meeks: I’ll tell you what. Why don’t I help teach you how NOT to get hit.


Yael:  Also good.  How do we do that?


Meeks: The best defense is sometimes a good offense, but in absence of that, not getting your [...] kicked is better than the alternative.


Ashley gave the Marine a good look now.  He’d known the man would outclass him.  He had a good nine inches on him in height, perhaps 80 or more pounds in weight?  The blond hair, blue eyes, and friendly face were deceptive… if Meeks *wanted* to, he could simply flick him with a finger and knock him into next year's Bajoran Gratitude Festival.  He had professional training though, and had probably taught before, seeing as how he was his unit leader.


Yael:  I’m not under any delusion I’m a heavy hitter, don’t get me wrong.  But I don’t want you to go easy on me.  Otherwise this is a waste of both of our time.


Meeks: Oh, trust me, you’re gonna get hit... a lot. Don’t worry about that.


Yael:  ::taking a breath, steeling himself::  Okay.  But if I cry, you can’t tell anyone.


He joked with a light laugh as he stepped onto the mat.  It wasn’t spongy by any means, but would buffer the harder hits and falls.


Meeks:  So, I have to ask. Is there a reason you are wanting to learn how to fight?


A reason?  Of course the Marine would want a reason.  Semi prepared for the question, but still hesitating slightly with the answer, he certainly wasn’t going to give a long winded speech about evolving as a person.


Yael:  I’ve been through enough to know that… what’s the Human saying?  Those who don’t carry a sword can still die upon them?


Meeks:  I suppose that’s true. 


Yael:  I’ve got no experience at this.  When it comes down to it… I have to depend on those around me, to preserve my own safety.  I’m just trying to tip the scale.


Meeks:  I would imagine you would always have a security detail if you were on an away mission.


Yael:  Nobody wants to be a burden.


That sounded a lot better than “Nobody wants to be a victim.”


Meeks:  I don’t think you would be a burden, but I get where you’re coming from. 


Yael:  Shall we get started then?


((Time Skip - 23 Minutes))


Stepping to the center of the floor, Tony took a position facing Ashley. They stepped into motion and within a few moves, Tony had defeated Ashley’s advance and grounded him. This identified the counselor’s experience level, which was consistent with the basic training provided through the Academy. While this was essentially adequate as a foundation for self defense, as it related to Starfleet personnel under most controlled situations, the training was woefully inadequate for any real combat scenario.


The pair reset and staged, facing each other once again. Tony explained some theories of the use of an opponent’s motion and inertia against the opponent, as well as assisting the defender using the forces applied by the attacker. After these explanations, Tony took the position of the attacker and demonstrated one of the theories at about half speed. Again, Ashley’s attempts to defend were easily overcome, leaving him facing the ceiling.


Time after time, the results were the same, which was to be expected. Ashley was taking in the information though, even if he didn’t know it. Each reset lended a lesson, and the lesson was making it to action. With each reset, the effort Tony was having to take to floor his opponent was greater than the last. Unfortunately for Ashley, that might not have been felt by him. 


The sound of the body hitting the floor echoed in the rafters high above.  A short yelp of pain that was more shock than actual pain.  Panting.  They’d only just started and he was sweating his choice already.  Ashley stared into the ceiling for a moment, clenched his jaw at the spiders crawling INSIDE his skin.  His lack of coordination was a real problem, but he couldn’t tell if it was that or the lack of skill that truly made him pathetic.


He took one more breath and pushed himself up with a grunt.  He gave a tug at one of his electro-stabilizing devices… they were firmly in place, it was his skin he wanted to claw off.  Despite his internal struggle, he kept a relatively calm face… aside the now permanent furrow of his eyebrows.


Yael:  oO FOCUS. Oo  Let me try that again.


Meeks:  You sure?


Yael:  I can get it.


Meeks:  Alright then. One more time.


The end results were the same, but that would be expected considering the counselor’s experience level. There had been improvement though, even if Yael didn’t realize it. Tony had been instructing in hand to hand combat for a while, and had many students. He had learned to see the smallest changes in a person’s abilities, and there had been improvement.


Meeks: Alright, counselor. I think that’s a good place to call it a day.


Tired of his view of the ceiling, Ashley pushed up from the floor again, but remained sitting.


Yael:  So soon?


Meeks: ::Tossing Ashley a towel:: If we push it too far, the learning stops. There’s no reason to get hurt here.


The Denobulan was frustrated already, it was true.  But too stubborn to give in to it, even if it was the smarter course.  So he pushed, insisting.


Yael:  I can keep going.


Meeks: Are you training for a prize fight tonight? ::Not waiting for an answer:: What you need now, is a hot shower and maybe a couple ice packs.


That was a very firm “no” if he’d ever heard one, so he sighed in resignation, but he was unsettled and unsteady as he pushed up to stand, pressing the towel to his face to keep the sweat stinging his eyes.


Yael:  Okay … okay… ::giving in, he forced a smile:: … who am I to tell the unit leader “no,” right?


Meeks:  There’s always tomorrow. Let today settle in and we can come back to it.

Yael:  ::recentering himself::  How have you been sleeping, anyway?  Is the medication helping?


Meeks:  ::Wiping his face and letting the towel settle on his shoulder:: Sleep has been hit and miss. I think it’s better though. The meds definitely help.


Yael:  Still dreaming?  ::running the towel on the back of his neck:: 


Meeks:  Not as bad. When they do happen, they're not in technicolor anymore. 


The dreams had come and gone nightly, but the severity was not as poignant. The perseverating thoughts were still there though, but were a bit easier to put aside. Suddenly, Tony realized the counselor had turned the tables, and the teacher had quickly become the student. 


Yael:  Good.  You’re on the right track then.  I have a few other tricks up my sleeve, if you want to continue doing sessions.


Meeks: Can I buy you a drink, counselor? 


Ashley blinked twice at that.  What he really wanted to do was hit the sonic shower and claw his skin off.  But if Anthony wanted to talk… now, while they smelled like this?  Granted, Meeks had probably had to put out far less effort than he had.  It could be important.  He balanced the options, going to be alone and therapeutically screaming, or… helping his crewmate.


He hesitated answering, but restrained said clawing and screaming.


Yael:  Now?  ::unsure if he should, pausing briefly, but choosing::  Sure?


Meeks: I bet wherever we go will smell better than this place. ::Smiling as he motioned to the room around them::


Yael:  ::glancing around, and laughing lightly::  It *is* pretty ramshackle, isn’t it… ok.  Lead the way.


((Promenade - Kael’s Pub))


Ashley carefully held his drink with both hands… they were shaking from the workout.  In fact his entire body was vibrating with the leftover adrenaline.  He’d put his pullover back on, and thankfully, the instinct to claw at the invisible spiders was lessening… more a dull hum now than an overwhelming wave.  Being in public, with Meeks, made it difficult to let himself give in to it.  He’d only wanted water… ice water… and he drank a bit greedily at first, leaving himself quickly with half a glass.


Glancing over the small table at the Marine, he wondered.


Tony on the other hand, ordered a pint of ale and a bowl of nuts. When the pint glass arrived, head of the ale spilling over slightly, cascading onto the table top, Tony collected the glass and took a long pull off the top.


Yael:  Was there something you wanted to say?  ::pausing, but not really waiting::  If you’re not doing so well, it’s *ok.*  There are other methods.


Meeks:  I think I’m doing better, Doc. I’m just not 100% yet.


Yael:  There’s an ultrasound therapy I was wondering if you’d like to try.  Sort of a medical assist.  It’s the little brother to electro-shock therapy.  It helps the brain reset and form new neural connections.


Meeks:  Zapping my brain?


Yael:  It’s completely painless.  I just have to give medical the word, and…


He droned off slightly, as it seemed very much Anthony was thinking of something else.  Ashley sent a hand up to rub his neck, fingers running over a few of his spinal ridges… he was a bit stiff and ached all over after being thrown around, and the ice cold condensation from the glass felt good against the heated skin.


Meeks:  It might be worth a shot. ::Noticing Ashley nursing his neck:: You okay? Maybe you need to see medical yourself. ::Chidingly::


Yael:  Ah.  ::laughing lightly::  No, I’m good.  You didn’t break anything.  I’m sure you were holding back for my sake.


Meeks: So… you want to tell me the real reason we were in that gym today?


There was a pause, a rapid moment of thought, and a forced smile.


Yael:  Was I that terrible at it?  If you feel it’s a waste of your time, I understand.


Meeks:  Training is never a waste of time. I’m just looking for your motivation… your drive. 


Crap.  Ashley needed to say something smart sounding.


Yael:  Just… I mentioned... improving my weak points?


Well *that* sounded super convincing… the Denobulan hybrid internally facepalmed at having phrased it as a question.  It was like he was *asking* Anthony to believe him.


Meeks:  Your position doesn’t necessarily put you into harms way, as a general rule. ::Nodding to the braces on Ashley’s forearms:: It looks to me like you’re trying to prove to yourself you can do this.


Yael:  ::leaning back, psychologically putting a little more space between them::  Is it that strange?


He paused, glancing down at the ale in the Humans hands almost longingly for a moment, then continued.


Yael:  I’m pushing things, I know.  ::glancing back up at the Marine, he gave a small smile that he hoped was convincing::  But it’s under control.  Nothing to worry about.


Tony watched and listened to the man. The words, the affect in the voice, the body language, all of what Ashley was saying in the totality of the communication spoke volumes. Tony knew and understood challenges, but what Ashley was facing was far beyond anything Tony had ever had to experience or endure. 


Meeks:  Would it be too much to ask about the braces? What’s the story?


There was an expansive moment of silence that dragged out into discomfort.  Ashley had known that *someone* would ask eventually.  Had at least half a dozen explanations prepared in advance to dismiss queries on the subject.  But now that he was actually faced with the question… looking Anthony in the eyes… he found them all distasteful.


Maybe it was because he was sitting across the table from someone he admired, but he didn’t want to hide who or what he was anymore.  He had always hidden it… but wasn’t he becoming a different person?  Could he emulate the bravery of a Marine, even if he could never fill those shoes?


Yael:  I have a neurological condition.  It’s called Theorons.  It starts with a loss of fine motor control.  These are…  ::he held up his hands, looking at the braces::... electro-stabilizers.  They alter the signals sent from my brain to my hands, to control the tremor.  Without these, I can’t buckle my boots, and it isn’t going to get better.


He spoke calmly, matter-of-factly, but there was a growing knot in his stomach.


But now that he’d started, he didn’t stop.


Yael:  I don’t tell people about it because I’m already the small guy in the room, and I’ve got a chip on my shoulder about it.  People underestimate me from the start.  I want to be known for what I *can* do.  Not what I can’t.  Trouble is… I grew up in the Federation, always protected… by people like you.  So *I* don’t even know what I can and can’t do, and I’m trying to figure that out.


He kept eyes on the man, trying to exude the confidence he didn’t feel… and waited.


Meeks:  ::Taking another pull from his ale, emptying the glass:: I think it takes balls to do what you’re doing. 


After signalling the waiter for another ale, Tony turned back to his conversation with Ashley. He took a moment and watched the man as he struggled with telling his story. He knew it was difficult for Ashley to give such intimate details, but his respect for his new friend grew by the moment.


Yael:  You’re… what?  You’re not...


Meeks: You gave me a prescription for twice weekly visits to try and get my noodle figured out. ::tapping his right temple::  Let’s do the same thing here. Twice a week, you and I will meet in that smelly ol’ gym. I’ll teach you what you want to know, for as long as you want to learn.


Ashley felt something imperative but didn’t have the words to describe it.  Balls?  His brain had frozen watching Anthony take that last, long drink, motioning for another, and… the man had given not one shred of unwanted pity, or needed comforting at the knowledge, or apologized clumsily for what he couldn’t possibly control, or asked invasive medical questions, or treated him like he was *breakable*.  None of the typical and terrible responses people always had.  Meeks gave him instant acceptance with the ease of taking a drink.


Yael:  ::suddenly breathing… he hadn’t realized he’d been holding his breath::  You’re still going to work with me?


Meeks: ::Thanking the waiter when his new glass of ale arrived, then turning back to Ashley:: I don’t give a squirt of snot about those things. ::Nodding to the braces:: Those are an obstacle, nothing more. Your… illness is only that, an obstacle.


Yael:  That’s right.


The Denobulan agreed, and breathed, and the knot in his stomach unkinked.  He took down the last of his glass of water, the ice having melted away.  


It felt good not to be made of glass.





Ensign Ashley Yael


Starbase 118 Ops




2Lt. Anthony Meeks

Company Commander

1/292nd TMR D Co.

Starbase 118 Ops/USS Narindra


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