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JP: Ensign Yael & Lt. Cmdr. DeVeau - “Breaking Bad”

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Awesome character development from both @Alora DeVeau and @Ashley Yael - great job both of you!!

((Starbase 118 - Counselor Yael’s Office))


Ashley’s office wasn’t uncomfortable.  The way he had arranged the furniture was more of an intimate nature, like people sitting in armchairs and just fellowshipping with one another. Alora could certainly see the benefit in that - it was more relaxing.  Less formal.  Less intimidating.  It was her third session with the man since she’d started seeing him, and the first since she’d managed to send him to Sickbay.  So, after arriving and settling into her seat, she crossed one leg over the other, leaned forward, and looked at him squarely.  

DeVeau: I’m glad you’re not dead.


Yael:  Ah.  ::glancing over at her as he ordered her chocolate milk::  Thank you?


They had definitely had a bit of a downturn, but he was all healed up from his injury from their holodeck session.  It just ached if he breathed extremely deeply, but nothing to speak of.


DeVeau:  Well, you know.  It’s not every day I send a counselor to Sickbay. 

Alora was beginning to wonder if Sal would kick her off Ops for breaking his counselors.  First, Karen, then Ruwon, now Ashley.  Only with Ashley, it hadn’t been figuratively, it had been literal. 


Yael:  It was really nothing.  Bailey patched me *right* up.


He had said that as if it hadn’t been a major surgery to withdraw the rib from his lung.  They were there for Alora though, not for him.


DeVeau:  How are you feeling? 


Yael:  Quite good.  In fact, I recently went horse riding.  Have never been before.


DeVeau:  Oh really?  That sounds like fun!  Did you enjoy it? 

It had been a really long time since Alora had gone, and she’d never done enough to really consider herself particularly skilled at it.  However, she adored horses, along with every other animal ever created, so... Yael:  It was alternatively fun and also terrifying.  ::he smiled at her::  The animals are larger than you expect, and feel even larger when you’re atop them.


DeVeau:  Yes, about twice as tall.  

And they were about as high up as Alora was willing to go.  Well, no, there had actually been /some/ trees she had climbed, but only to the lowest branches, and only because those branches weren’t more than eight feet or so off the ground - if that.  That was about all she was going to do.  Higher?  Nope.  No way.  Not a chance.  


Yael:  Admittedly, there’s some trouble walking after… ::a new rider on a horse would do that to the legs, but he refocused::  But, we’re not here to talk about me.  ::he tried to redirect her::  I’d like to know how *you’re* doing.


DeVeau:  I’m doing well.  No dramatics at work, I get time to myself, I’m sleeping well.


Or at least she’d slept well the night before.  That wasn’t always the case.  The nightmares didn’t come every night, but they came often enough.  Alora was just glad she could tell the truth and not pretend it was okay.


DeVeau: So today is good.


And even better once Ashley handed her that chocolate milk.  Which one was it that time?  Alora took a sip.  Oh!  Number one!  Yes, that was definitely a good one a bit creamier than the others, and on her list of top ten.  


Yael:  So today, I’d like for you to be a little more honest with me.  As well as you can be.


Alora canted her head to the side, an eyebrow arching upward.

DeVeau: What makes you think I’m not?


Yael:  Perhaps it’s not the best way to phrase it… it isn’t a matter of not being honest.  It’s a matter of holding back.  Which you do a *lot* of.


He paired his commentary with that calm smile.


Alora took another sip of her milk and leveled her gaze at the violet-eyed man.  


DeVeau: What am I holding back? 


Yael:  ::laughing lightly::  How would I know the answer to that?


DeVeau:  I don’t know.  Can you give me an example?


Yael:  For example then.  How are you sleeping?  ::pausing, eyebrow rising::  It’s a simple question with a complicated answer.


DeVeau:  I’m sleeping well.  Most recently she had been, anyway.  It all depended on the day.


DeVeau: There are some nights that are better than others, especially if I, say, get distracted and stay up too late, but we all have times like that.  I’m sure you do, hm?


Ashley gave her a pensive look, the pleasant mask dropping for a fraction of a moment before it was replaced again.  She had apparently hit a nerve somehow, but he repressed it.  It was long enough, however, for Alora to catch it, though she was far well versed in not letting her own emotions show - sometimes. 


Yael:  That’s all well and good, but if you want to *address* it, you can talk to me about the not-so-better nights.  There are multitudes of methods we could try to help stabilize your sleep quality.  Even something simple could lead to a better quality of life.  Which is why you’re here with me now.


DeVeau:  Why do you think my sleep schedule needs stabilizing?


Yael: It’s not about just staying up late and missing curfews or alarms.  ::reorienting, he wasn’t sure if he was getting his point across::  I’m just trying to say, I’m a *tool* for you to use.  If you don’t take it seriously, it’s a waste of time for you.


Alora paused, head tilting to the other side and another sip of milk was taken before she continued the conversation.

DeVeau: What sort of tools?


Yael:  Well, like the orb.


He refrained from saying “the glitter orb of doom.”  Though he thought about it.


Yael:  You do amazing work with it, as if it’s only a *toy.*  But you were playing with it, and with me.


It was a toy.  What he wanted to do had been so juvenile and so easy - at least the first time . The second time had just sucked, and Alora wasn’t so keen to repeat it.


He eyed her seriously now.


Yael:  If you just play games, I can’t help you take the steps you need to advance.


DeVeau:  The question is, Ashley, advance from what, to what?  What are your goals here?   I’m not quite sure why you think I need to advance.  


Yael:  It isn't a matter of having a set goal.  It’s like… evolution.  There isn’t an end goal in mind, it’s about taking the next great steps in your evolution.


He shook his head negatively, then finally sat across from her with his coffee.


Yael:  Perhaps I’m pushing too hard.  I’m making you uncomfortable.


He wanted to ask if the orb training had been a total mistake, but at least it had communicated some things to him.


DeVeau: How have you evolved?

Alora asked softly.  Her eyes dropped down to the braces upon his hands, braces she had noticed from the day they had met, but she hadn’t said a word about them before.  Even if he hadn’t said anything, she could tell he was uncomfortable about them.  DeVeau: What sort of tools do you use?


He looked down into his coffee for a long moment.

Yael:  That.... would be a long conversation.  ::pausing:: But I know it doesn’t happen if people don’t push you.


DeVeau:  We have most of our hour left.  So we’ve both got some time.  Maybe it would help me see the benefits. 


Alora leaned back in her chair, shifting a bit, as if to settle into a more comfortable position.  A smile played on her lips, but there was no mockery, not even of amusement.  More of an invitation, a willingness to listen for once rather than have a battle of wits.


His eyebrows furrowed in thought, and he wondered if he should.  Was she deflecting?  Or was it an honest admission for guidance?  It was hard to tell.


Yael:  I… this… this is *your* time… ::as he was so prone to saying::....


DeVeau:  It’s good to hear about the experience of others.  Good advice often comes from it.  What’s helped you in the past?


A quick thought back to his own experiences, and he wasn’t sure they would be helpful to her.  For all the work he did, all the effort he put out to help his crewmates, he wasn’t sure if *any* of it had worked on him.  Cumulatively, probably?  But to put a finger on something and say “this cured me of my PTSD and made me functional again,” was too much.


And that would mean exposing things he’d not exposed to anyone on this crew… things he preferred to remain secret.


If they *knew* how dysfunctional he’d been, how could they trust him to help them?


Perhaps he could give her just enough, though?  Without burying himself in the process.


Yael:  I went through this process myself.  We all go through it, to some extent.  There was no single thing that “cured” me, in the end.  I realize it’s more complicated than just the application of a technique.


DeVeau: How so?


The Denobulan glanced down at his own hands.  Paused again.  It wasn’t something he liked talking about, though he’d had more practice of late… thanks to Anthony and Kherys.  He was *almost* getting used to people not dismissing him as completely breakable.




Yael:  ::a bit more softly:: I do my own amount of deflecting.  That’s how I can see it so easily in others.


A finger traced the edge of one of the braces on his hands, and he looked up, but not at her.  


Yael:  Having an expiration date gives you a different kind of perspective on these things.  You feel as if you don’t have the *time* to play games.


Except it wasn’t necessarily a game, even for those who had expiration dates.  Alora knew she counted as one of those, but she also realised he was speaking from experience.  She wasn’t a medical officer, but Alora wondered if she’d have access to his file.  Considering her rank, probably certain things.  Another sip of the chocolate brought it down to about halfway full, then she swallowed and asked, her voice still soft, gentle. 

DeVeau: Why is it so hard?


Yael:  It’s… a multifaceted problem.  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but… I’ve been *down* the rabbit hole.  I know what it’s like to never sleep, for even a moment.  I’ve heard the screaming in my dreams.  If *you* hear the screaming, I want to help you.


She heard the screaming.  It was her own screaming.  Her own crying.  But it was what she didn’t hear any longer that was the true nightmare.  Alora’s face, however, remained thoughtfully stoic as she pondered over what he said.  She let his words rummage around for a moment, then asked another question. 


DeVeau: What got you started on the process?  Where did you see the most progress, and how did you know it was true progress?


She had completely derailed him, and it was possible he couldn’t get it back.  He was so far down his own rabbit hole that he wasn’t sure he could pull free of it.  Staying clear of one's own components was a vital skill… so they could remain clear headed about someone else’s.


Yael:  I’m not sure I’m making my point very concisely.  ::that had been more a musing to himself stated aloud::  I had the benefit of a relocation.  A great deal of my… problems… they were specific to a location.  Excising myself from that location was the best first step.  ::pausing again::  I don’t get the sense it’s the same for you though?


DeVeau: What do you mean by excising yourself? :: Alora queried.:: Do you mean leaving a location because it was harmful somehow?


Yael:  It is.  The Embassy was… a hazardous place for me.  And by excising, I mean… I left Starfleet.  ::glancing at her::  Also not something I believe would be beneficial for you.  


Alora nodded slowly, her expression still thoughtful as she listened to the counselor.


DeVeau:. But that was beneficial for you?  Why was that?


Yael  For me, it was a type of reset.  There were fewer triggers, and I could focus on what I needed to do for myself.  ::his amethyst eyes set on her::  All of which is why I’m not sure my experience would help you.  These things… they’re not universal.


DeVeau:  Maybe not universal, but hearing and walking through the experiences of others can be very beneficial.  Maybe not that specific experience, but there might be others that could.  What else has helped you?


Yael:  ::he was thoughtful for a moment::  Breaking the cyclical, toxic behaviors that I had allowed to take root.  And… not lying to myself so much.


DeVeau:  What cyclical, toxic behaviours?


He smiled at her, then spoke a bit more profoundly. 


Yael:  The best of liars believe their own lies first.  I was an expert liar, and that allowed me to put myself in a position that was… quite inhospitable.  But everything that happened to me was a consequence of my own doing.  I kept my defenses up so expertly for so long that nobody even knew I needed help until it was almost too late.


Another thoughtful sip was taken, another nod given as she once again mulled over what was said. 

DeVeau: But did you do beyond stopping behaviours.  What helped you stop them?  And what helped you move forward?  


The Denobulan sighed lightly as he thought on it.  He was beating around the bush, and she wanted specifics.  He took a breath and looked her in the eyes, prepared to make the confession she wanted.


Yael:  I checked into rehab, on Earth.  And when I was clean, I was admitted to a psychiatric center.


DeVeau:  What kind of rehab?


Yael:  Alcoholic and addict.  I… didn’t discriminate.  If it was available, I used it.


That was not a problem that Alora struggled with - and one she was grateful she’d never fallen into.  Not that she hadn’t been tempted.  Oh no, there had indeed been times.

DeVeau: What helped you to break the cycle of addiction?  You’ve talked about tools.  What tools did you use?


Yael:  The people around me, Alora.  I stopped hiding from them… there was nothing left to hide, rather, after the Embassy… they stayed on top of me, didn’t let me get away with my old lies.  They didn’t let up, and eventually, somehow, I learned better ways.  ::pausing::  I could *not* have done it alone.  I’d have never been able to do it alone.


DeVeau:  And you think that’s what I’m doing?  I’ve been going to counseling for a while.


Yael:  Concerning your counseling previously, it isn’t that there is anything glaringly, obviously harmful happening right this moment.  But you were ordered to take on the counseling for a reason, and it appears that your previous counselors may have been… ineffective, despite their best efforts.  I was concerned that the cumulative impact for you has been negligible.  That it hasn’t been beneficial for you… in part, because of its classified nature, which makes it difficult to know how to help you.  Or even *if* you actually need help.  Which is why I’ve been rocking your boat… I don’t want you to find it’s gone on too long, and that it’s too late.


DeVeau:  What evidence do you see that I need help?  


Yael:  ::smiling at her::  That, is a trick question.  You were ordered into counseling, so clearly *someone* thought you did.  I have to operate with that in mind.  If I just assumed you were fine, and you weren’t…


Alora nodded slowly.  He was being careful - and she couldn’t blame him.  


DeVeau: That’s part of what makes you a good counselor.  I was ordered into counseling, but I’ve also made a lot of progress.  There are techniques I’ve learned that help me process and deal with things.


Sort of.  Not really.  Sometimes.  Alora had her good days.  Then she had her bad days.  Then she had those days when it seemed like something triggered her and it just set her off the edge.  Those were the times where it seemed like she couldn’t bring herself back for a while, that she wallowed in the darkness that had exploded to her life.  They also hadn’t taken away the dreams, though at least those did not’ descend upon her /every/ night.  Just a lot of nights.


DeVeau: But how do /you/ deal with things? When you have a day where you struggle, what do you do?


Yael:  When I feel myself slipping, I…. ::he laughed very lightly::... I keep  myself so busy that I don’t have time to think about it.


Which was ironic in how he was trying to challenge that instinct in her, to make her do “nothing.”


Yael:  I don’t have a perfect system.  There are still flaws in my approach.  But I like to think I’ve tipped the scales somewhat more in my favor.


DeVeau:  So you feel like you have made progress?  Where do you feel like you need to improve, and how are you actively trying to improve?


Yael:  Alora… ::he shook his head::... I can’t give you *all* my secrets.  Just tell me, honestly.  Are we on the wrong track?  Am I helping you, or am I just frustrating you?


DeVeau:  I’ll be honest.

Alora sat up and finished her milk, then leaned forward to rest it on the table in front of her.


DeVeau: Right now, I’m just feeling frustrated.  


There it was.  She was being completely honest.  For once, she didn’t sugar coat it either, and he had explicitly asked her . 


Yael:  Okay.  What can I do to make this easier for you?


DeVeau:  In here?  Nothing.


Alora tilted her head toward the doors behind her.


DeVeau:. Out there?Just keep being my friend.  Honestly, that's what I need more than anything.


He nodded, accepting her statement as genuine.  And being her friend wasn’t all that hard… so long as she wasn’t blowing up psionic glitter bombs.


Yael:  Why don’t we try a change of pace “in here,” then.  Let’s skip a week, give you a break from the sessions.  Do something you enjoy with the time instead.


DeVeau:  I always do something I enjoy.  


Alora replied dryly.

Yael:  We’ll pick up fresh the week after.


DeVeau:  All right.  We can try that.


But Alora didn’t think it was going to make any difference. 

DeVeau: In the meantime, when are you going to take me back to Verriar’s? 


Yael:  When are you free?  ::pausing:: I don’t think it’s your typical kind of place though, is it.


DeVeau: It’s not my kind of place, but I like her.  Maybe we should invite her to hang out sometime.  Besides, they do have a tongo table.


Yael:  It’s the most fun when the Ferengi is running the table.  Trying to beat *his* system is almost impossible.


DeVeau:  I guess I should learn how to play before we try playing with him.


Yael:  I’m sure the computer has a tutorial.


DeVeau: Well, I was kinda hoping you’d teach me.


Yael:  Ah… ::smiling again::... I can do that.




Ensign Ashley Yael


Starbase 118 Ops





Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau

Science Officer

Starbase 118 Ops


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