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JP: Lieutenant Commander Arlo Thornton & Lieutenant Corliss Fortune: Scars (Parts I-III)

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A lovely and frank exploration of the mind, by Arlo Thornton and Corliss Fortune (Highest Quality Counsellor Brain). Took me a little while to get to it, because the moment I started I knew it was going to be a good one, and I wasn't disappointed.

Hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I did!



((Deck 10, Arboretum, USS Gorkon))


As a counselor, being versatile and expecting the unexpected was part of the job, truly. You never really knew what someone would say next, nor where they would ask to meet up for a session.


Since she was on duty, she had her usual pink bubblegum wig on, the curls laid around her shoulders as she popped into the arboretum, the smell of warm dirt and whatever those bright red flowers were permeating the air. She whistled idly, ducking inside.

Fortune: Arlo?

Though she was still on leave Arlo had volunteered her time to assist with the replanting of several delicate Capellan lotus flowers that had been brought aboard by one of the civilian botanists that called Gorkon home. It was a task that required a high degree of meticulosity which if not properly handled could lead to the loss of the entire crop- which meant that the Assistant Chief Science Officer could spend her day indulging in one of her favourite hobbies. She had first developed an affinity for xenobotany as a teenager watering the myriad of plants that crew throughout her parents cafe. For a time she had considered turning the avocation into a career before the lure of astronomy and xenology proved too strong a siren’s call to resist.


So engrossed was she in her task- examining the stem of one sickly looking lotus with her loupe (a kind of magnifying lens attached to a band around her the top of her scalp which afforded her a microscopic examination of the filaments) - that it took her several moments to realise that a familiar voice- soft and warm with just the hint of a laugh- had called her name. She looked up from the lotus and got to her feet.

Thornton: Corliss?

She turned around to see the ship’s counsellor stood on the other side of a particularly dense Anterean shrub that the lotus flower she was planting would grow in the shadow of. As ever the Betazoid was bewigged, this time shoulder length with a soft-yet-bright pink hue. Not for the first time, Arlo wondered what her actual hair looked like underneath.

Fortune: Oh! ::she jumped, twirling around with a laugh.:: You startled me! It’s much quieter here than I assumed.

Looking abashed, Arlo’s cheeks tingled as they warmed with a soft red blush. She hadn’t meant to make her jump, but she herself had been surprised by her arrival. So consumed had she been in her task that she had not realised the time. For a split second she wondered if the counsellor had come in search of her to chase up a missed appointment before she remembered that Arlo had suggested having their session in a location other than Corliss’ office.

Thornton: Sorry. ::she replied, her tone rueful.:: Do you wanna come round? ::there was a small gap between the shrubbery large enough to allow a person access to the lawn. Nearby was a sign that made it clear ball games were not permitted on the green (something that Arlo was sure nobody paid the slightest bit of attention to).:: What do you think of the Arboretum then?

Fortune: I like it, I think. Makes me think of a real forest. So! ::she clapped her hands together, smiling.:: What’s first then?

Arlo could see what Corliss meant. The space was filled with a wide variety of tall perennials that stood tall and proud. The overheard lights filtered through the landscape creating a dappled appearance that was instantly relaxing. There were paths meandering throughout the large space as well as lawns for the planting and feeding of other flora. It seemed like the ideal venue for a counselling session, especially for those- like Arlo- who felt claustrophobic in a counsellor’s office.

In response to Corliss’ question, Arlo removed the loupe and passed to her before crouching back down in front of the small hole that she had dug with a nearby trowel.

Thornton: Here, put that on. The magnification should already be set. Have a look at the stems and the microfilaments. Do any of them look withered or decayed? Instead of green, they should be turning a reddy-brown colour.


Corliss took it with ease, looking it over curiously before crouching down as well, looking over the stems slowly.

Fortune: I remember being smaller than my knee and doing the same for my father. ::she twirled the loupe in her hand with a smile.:: Sadly, he got an infestation once...hard to see the green amongst the browns. But this one looks fine. This one, ::she turned her gaze onto another little plant trying its hardest to stand the test of time.:: seems to have a splotch of brown. Not ideal.

Thornton: Thanks for meeting me here, by the way. I offered to help out Doctor Klechlacen with the replanting of the lotus’ and then forgot all about it. ::she didn’t really want to admit that she didn’t care much for Corliss’ office- as inviting as she had tried to make it.::


Fortune: It’s not a problem! It’s a change from the usual, for sure. ::she changed her gaze to another, squinting as if trying to determine its fate.:: Plus, had you asked my father, he would perhaps waxed poetic over how vital our green friends here are to the day to day living. So...would you like to talk about the last mission?

There was a loaded question. Did she want to talk about their shared experience on Trueno? Absolutely not. Did she need to talk about it and her state of mind following the mission? Absolutely. Not that it made it any easier to do so.

Thornton: Depends how much free time you have, counsellor. ::she said, affecting an air of nonchalance.:: What do you want me to talk about?

Fortune: Anything? Everything? Actually, I didn’t get a chance to congratulate you on your promotion! That half pip looks good on you. Have any exciting plans to celebrate? Beyond the champagne we had at the party, I mean.


The truth was that she didn't want to celebrate her promotion. She felt like she did not deserve it. Not after she let her temper get the best of her. She would have returned the black and gold pip to the Admiral- but a healthy fear of the quiet but utterly intimidating woman meant she was much to fearful of her reaction to do so.


Thornton: Not really. ::she replied, still forcing a casual air.:: That stem with the splotch of brown, trying rejuvenating the area with this xylemic regenerator. It might be that water molecules are not getting through the inner layers.


She handed Corliss a small device approximately six centimeters long, half of which was taken up by a thin microfilament that glowed with a soft yellow regenerative light.


Fortune: Oh my, that can happen? How frightening! ::she took up the device easily, slowly waving it over the splotch of brown.:: What a poor little plant. ::she hummed softly.:: Nothing in mind at all?


Thornton: ::she bit her lip.:: I don't think I handled myself well on Trueno. I went in distrustful and I didn't give Hankins the benefit of the doubt. I…. I don't know what that says about me as a Starfleet officer.


Fortune: Quite honestly, there’s nothing in the Starfleet manual demanding you to be swayed one way or another. Do you feel you trusted your gut down there? About Hankins?


She let out a sigh as she considered the question. Her gut had been right about Hankins all along. The idea that there was a killswitch embedded each creature and he had kept that from them had proved that. But it wasn't so much that she didn't trust him, she had not trusted herself to behave. 


And she had not.

Thornton: Well… I think I did. After all, the man was playing god to get his name in the history books. He wasn't genuinely interested in those creatures and their welfare. ::the thought made her blood boil.::


Fortune: I think it’s important to trust others, but as an officer, I also think there should be a modicum of...hesitance. He played with life, which while fascinating, is obviously dangerous. ::she flicked off the device, squinting at the stem slowly.:: What do you think? Have they recovered? ::she smiled, a hand holding her head up on her lap.::


She motioned with the loupe and affixed it in place when Corliss handed it back. The regenerator had only partially worked. With another audible sigh, she realised that it was not going to be a viable candidate for planting.

Thornton: Not entirely. The structure of the xylem was just too weak I think. We'll had to turn it into compost. ::beat:: I don't think I trusted myself down there, Corliss. I knew I was going to react the way I did at some point.


Corliss: To dust, we return, as a valuable asset to the next generation. ::she tilted her head in thought, slipping a lock of hair behind her ear that had escaped.:: You didn’t trust yourself, you say. Is this something new…?


She was at a loss for a moment, unsure of why that was. She had always kept people at arm's length for most of her adult life. It just felt safer to do so.


Thornton: I've… been like that for a long time, I think and because of that I'm… scared to let people in? ::she knew she sounded like a textbook case and it made her cringe.::


Corliss: You’d be surprised-or not-that that is a lot of people’s fear. ::she smiled, twiddling the device in hand.:: We know ourselves, and to let someone else so close to what we view as a negative  aspect of ourselves is...nerve-racking.


Arlo nodded in agreement and picked up one the lotus' that she had already checked over before Corliss had arrived. She planted it in the spoil with great care and then ran a root generator over the top of the soil to ensure the viability of the plant. She couldn't quite meet

Fortune: Well, what is it about others that make you hesitate? Is there a specific reason or is it just….something you feel rather than can describe?


Thornton: It's a feeling more than anything. I've lived with it almost all of my adult life. ::it was a powerful realisation, one that threatened to rob her of breath.:: I…. I feel like…. I feel like it's better to keep people at a remove so I won't be disappointed too much when they let me down.


Fortune: You make assumptions of others of a negative state, and when they achieve it, you feel...vindicated, of a sort? ::she hummed, rocking her head back and forth.:: You said this started in your adult life. Was there a certain moment? Something that just...started it all off?


Arlo didn’t answer as he let the lotus flower tumble from her hand. It landed silently on the lawn. Her mind left the replanting- left the Gorkon even- and remembered for the first time in years as everything slid into place.


Burning. Crackling. Smoke. Screams. Alarms. Sirens. Dread. Terror. Blame.

She drew a sharp breath, her mind returning in a disorientating rush. She couldn’t remember having stood- but she was on her feet, gasping greedily at the air, hungry for steadying, calming breaths. Her hands felt clammy, her forehead thick with sudden rivulets of sweat. Anxiety stabbed at her, like a thousand needles upon her psyche.


She knew that was the ‘something’ that Corliss had asked about. Her eyes darted about, her mind whirling to put all the pieces together. She looked down at Corliss with a wide stare.

Thornton:  The Academy. ::she said, then after hesitating, she continued.:: My final year cadet cruise, a-aboard the Temecula.


Corliss blinked, hesitating before gently holding her hand out to place upon Arlo’s shoulder, squeezing lightly.


Corliss: Deep breath now. You’ve grown quite white. Do you need to sit down for a moment?


It was a good idea. She bobbed her head and started to sit on the grass, shaking a little as she did. Corliss reached out to stop her.

Corliss: No, on a chair. You look like you’re about to pass out, honestly. Here.


She hefted herself up, nudging the plants away and scooping the lotus up, settling it atop a planter for now as she offered her arm up to Thornton.


Corliss: You need a shot of juice.


Thornton: I do? ::she looked at the counsellor vaguely, her eyes glassy but her brow knitting together ever so slightly.::

Corliss: Juice. The sugar spike will help even the adrenaline, it’s why some people who get their blood drawn are given juice at the end. ::she gave Arlo a soft smile.:: And who doesn’t like juice, hm? 


Thornton: I guess… ::she mumbled.:: … I hadn't thought about that in a long time.


Burning. Crackling. Smoke. Screams. Alarms. Sirens. Dread. Terror. Blame.


The rush of emotion and of sensory inputs rushed upon her again. She closed her eyes and braced herself. Though still intense, there was a distance to it that it made it more manageable. Just.


She sat on the planter and looked down at the ground.


Thornton: I must look ridiculous, huh?


Corlis adjusted her a little to sit her up, squeezing her shoulder with a nod, grabbing a replicator and fiddling with it to summon a cup of apple juice just for the occasion.


Corliss: No, someone who has a doodle of fake glasses on their face by marker looks ridiculous. You look tired, Arlo. ::she grabbed the glass, holding it out for Arlo gently.:: Here, slow sips.

She did as the counsellor instructed, not even wondering where she had managed to get a replicator from. The apple juice was pleasantly sweet and wetted her suddenly dry throat.


Thornton: Thank you. ::she said, full of gratitude.::


Corliss: Take some time, deep breaths. ::she took a seat next to her, one leg bouncing lightly as she smiled at Arlo.:: Something happened, I take it. More so than you’d like to think about.


Again, she did as she was told. She breathed in through her nose and exhaled slowly out of her mouth. Just as she had done on Trueno.


Just had she done in the days and the weeks after the Temecula.


Burning. Crackling. Smoke. Screams. Alarms. Sirens. Dread. Terror. Blame.


She pushed through the unpleasant sensations swirling about her body and mind and continued to sip from the apple juice. Once they had subsided, she turned her attention to Corliss.


Thornton: There was an explosion in a science laboratory aboard the Temecula while I was stationed there as part of my final year cadet cruise. ::she shook her head, her stomach suddenly felt  as though it had been flooded with churning ice cold water.:: I was in the laboratory at the time and…. and I got the blame.


Corliss: Really? ::she felt an eyebrow twitch up at that.:: That certainly doesn’t fit...you, I think. ...so, what happened? 


Arlo spent many years trying to put the events aboard the Temecula but the injustice of what had occurred still burned within her. She looked down at the grass again, took a breath and began her story….



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((Sickbay, USS Temecula))

((Stardate 239112.14))

((Five Years Previously))


The world came back to Cadet Arlo Thornton by degrees. At first she was aware that she was alive  then she realised she was lying on something relatively soft. She tried opening her eyes but they felt impossibly heavy, like someone had welded duratanium to her eyelids. So she tried to move her fingers- but could only manage her fingertips. It was a start. She could feel others present, hovering over her making soft whirring noises that sounded far off and murky- yet close at the same time. Her mind, a thick soup of confusion struggled to remember what had happened.


Had there been…. a fire?


An explosion?


She recalled a rushing wall of heat and a storm of red and orange. And black.




And then the world came back to her all at once, a storm of pure, unadulterated memory. Overwhelmed, her mind raced faster than it that had ever done before. Before she knew it her eyes were open, she was gasping and retching for the sterile air, her body shooting up from a prostrate position. To the left of her somebody dropped something, to the right of her a voice called out.


Nurse: Doctor! Doctor Rubani!!


A statuesque Bajoran woman appeared in seconds at the end of the biobed Arlo now found herself. She was pointing a medical tricorder in her direction, taking readings.


Rubani: How are you feeling cadet?


Thornton: The lab! There is a fire! ::she searched the room for answers, eyes still wide with fright. Was that a security officer by the door?


Rubani: How. Are. You. Feeling. Cadet?! ::the woman's tone was harsher, leaving no illusion that she demanded an answer.


Thornton: Fine, I'm fine. What about the lab? Has somebody put out the fire?


Security Chief: Cadet. ::He stepped forward, a harsh countenance on his face, the lines bringing out the anger more prominently than when he had been younger.:: We actually have quite a few questions about this fire.


Rubani: Prophet's Sake, can't wait you wait two minutes?!. ::she closed her tricorder with a disgruntled chunter.:: Don't answer. ::she snapped.:: Go easy on her, she's had a traumatic experience. Five minutes, no less.


As the Bajoran walked off, she ushered two nurses away without so much as looking at the bewildered Arlo. The Chief, an elderly Klingon by the name of Kalim, snapped his shirt by pulling at it roughly, clearing his throat and crossing his arms behind his back.


Security Chief: It is a disservice to drag this out, both to me and to you. 


Thornton: Drag… what out? ::she said, genuinely confused.::


Kalim: What with the witness testimony-

Thornton: I don't und- ::she started to protest but her words withered into ether under the gaze of the imperious Klingon.::

Kalim: Cadet. ::he warned, his eyes sinking lower as he tried very hard not to glare.:: With the witness testimony, it has come about that you are the cause of the explosion in the lab earlier, and were only caught as you miscalculated. What say you in response?


It was like somebody had taken a pick axe to her heart. So overwhelmed with emotion was she that the words were robbed from her. She couldn't believe it…. no. 


She wouldn't believe it. 


There was no way that was possible. 


She had been monitoring the interaction between the sirilium and the catalyst agent they were using to allow it to function with the warp plasma. She couldn't see how observing rather than interacting could have led to the explosion.

Thornton: It couldn't have been me! I was only there to observe! I wasn't interacting with the sirilium or the force field!


Kalim: Witnesses state they saw you interact with a PADD just before the explosion, leading them to feel that you have a hand in what occurred. Security is currently reviewing footage but I have always been of the mind to confront the ones at the base of the incident. ::he switched his arms to cross in front of him, one hand holding the other wrist tightly.:: We will of course interview them as well but as they were so insistent, it has led to some eyes being drawn your way.


Her mind boggled at the very thought that anybody could have believed that she was responsible for the explosion, even accidentally. Surely the computer access logs would show that she was simply there to observe the reaction and that she didn't directly interfere?


And the PADD, she couldn't remember interacting with one. In fact, she hadn't brought her with her. She had left it on her bunk.


Thornton: I didn't…. I didn't have my PADD with me. And I don't recall using one while I was there. I was at my station in the lab.


Arlo's brow knitted together into a deep frown. Why would somebody say that she was using a PADD when she had not been? The only people in the laboratory with her were Janika and Cormoran. Her friends. Her best friends. Surely…. surely they would not have…..?


Thornton: I don't understand. :: she said to herself.:: They couldn't have….


Kalim: It’s...true we didn’t spy a PADD nearby, however, it is a miracle anyone survived it, quite honestly. We’re still searching through the rubbish.

He cleared his throat, snapping his shirt again as he rolled his head, popping the tension in his neck.

Kalim:...the truth will always out, no matter how others may hide it. If as you say you have no clue about it, then that will show. For now, we have to take the precautions given to us by the witnesses.

She lay back down on the biobed, her head foggy with confusion and malaise. She was certain that she was not to blame for the explosion that by the sounds of it had destroyed the Temecula’s Science Lab. But if she could not prove that and the evidence suggested otherwise, she would be looking at expulsion from the Academy and a possible stay at the Federation’s pleasure in a penal colony somewhere. It would be an ignoble end to a career that had barely started.

Thornton: I…. I don’t understand. ::she turned her head, her eyes half focused on the Benzite security guard stood near the exit, an unwelcome reminder that she was now considered a security risk.::  I was… so careful. I am always so careful.

Kalim: Sadly, Cadet, as I am oft reminded, we are limited creatures. Our mistakes can sometimes cause us great misfortune, but we are prone to them. Or some jibbering nonsense S’Rann attempts to lay out for me. All the same, I’ll leave you to rest until the CMO releases you.

With a bow of his head, he stepped away, allowing her to her thoughts.

((Time Jump))

((Stardate 239112.17))

((Three Days Later))

((Brig, USS Temecula))


After being discharged from Sickbay, Arlo was ushered straight to the brig while the investigation into the science lab explosion continued. She had done little besides sleep and eat. She wasn’t allowed visitors outside of Kalim- the ship’s grizzled Security Chief- and Doctor Rubani who came to check on her injuries. The evidence against Arlo was stacking up- there was no security footage of her interacting with a PADD shortly before everything went to hell. Doctor Rubani had found no evidence of concussion or other neurological injury which meant that she could not have possibly misremembered. There was no PADD at her work station. Javica and Cormoran had been working with PADDs, but she didn’t want to throw them under the shuttlecraft. After all, the three of them were best friends. You didn’t do that to the people you cared about the most.


Arlo was on the verge of sleep yet again when the clanking forcefield doors pulled her back from the brink. She sat up wearily on the uncomfortable slab that was her bed and waited for Kalim or Rubani to appear.

It was the former.

Thornton: Hello, sir. ::her words here monotone, tiredness and boredom having robbed her of the desire to imbue her voice with emotion.::

Kalim: Remember how I said the truth will always out?

All Arlo could do was nod. She was tired of playing the unwilling mouse to Kalim’s cat. She just wanted it to be over.

Kalim: You have...questionable friends, and I would encourage you to perhaps take caution in who you seek accompaniment with in the future. ::he cleared his throat, his hands cupping together in front of them.:: The evidence helped, but Cadet Cormoran has come forward about their involvement in the incident, along with Cadet Javica. We’re in the midst of getting to the bottom of things, but as of now, you are cleared of all wrongdoings.

Kalim’s words were like a shot of adrenaline that surged through her body. Every inch of her was keen and alert. Fatigue and depression had disappeared in a flash, replaced by attentiveness and confusion. Cormoran had… come forward?


About what?


A billion and two questions hurtled through her confused mind. All she could manage to spluter was….

Thornton: W-w-w-w-w-w-what are you talking about? ::belatedly she realised that had sounded rude.:: Sir.

Kalim: It seems you’re at a loss for words. ::he held out a PADD with their verdict and findings on it.:: Hopefully, the ability to process reading has not yet left as well.

The forcefield fizzled between the two of them and vanished into nothingness. Hesitantly, she took the proffered PADD and looked at the screen.


She read the report six times before it could sink in.


On the seventh read through she collapsed with a deflated flump onto the hard slab that had been her head. All she wanted to do was sleep again. Her gut twisted, her heart hurt, her body felt cold with the icy spear of betrayal.


She looked at Kalim, fatigue and heartbreak etched all over her face.


Thornton: oO This has to be some kind of mistake… they wouldn’t. Oo ::she struggled to breathe as the enormity of what they had done hit her.:: They… forged the security recording and lied under oath?


Here, he did seem to sink a little. Honor, oaths, they were important to his own heritage, as important as breathing and life itself.


Kalim: Truly dishonorable, no matter the cause, but we assure you that we are looking into it and are going to have the appropriate punishments in place.


Her voice cracked with emotion. Whereas moments before she could think for the all the questions in her mind- now there was only one.

Thornton: Why?

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((Deck 10, Arboretum, USS Gorkon))

((Present Day))


Arlo finished talking and realised that she had begun to cry. A lone tear had slid gently down her cheek, leaving a sad stream of wetness in its wake. She sniffed and brushed the rivulet away with a delicate sweep of her pale cheek. She looked down to find the glass of apple juice that Corliss had kindly fetched her was empty. She didn’t recall finishing it.


She looked at Corliss. Corliss held out a small cloth to clean her face, letting her take it.

Fortune: What happened next…?

Thornton: Cormoran explained when he confessed that Javica and he had panicked after they realised that they had taken their eye off of their work and the sirilium had combusted with some of the other agents they had been experimenting with. Javica had managed to hack into the security database and forge a record which showed me using a PADD which they then said had been responsible for the loss of sirillium containment.


Corliss clicked her tongue, letting out a low whistle. Not paying attention was one thing, consciously subverting their classmate’s project, integrity, and even livelihood was another.


Fortune: On one hand, I’m impressed at the whole...hacking, part, I suppose. On another, they certainly were trying to set you up, weren’t they? I can’t blame you for any hard feelings towards them. What happened to them?

She laughed derisively as she thought about their punishment. Her parents had been furious and had believed they had gotten off lightly. They had even petitioned the Judge Advocate General for a harsher sentence but Arlo had not wanted to see either of them again- not after the board of inquiry- and because of that their sentences had both remained as they were.

Thornton: Both were sentenced to four years at the penal colony on Dramia. Cormoran was killed in a prison riot about a year into his sentence. Javica was released about a month before I transferred to Gorkon. She sent me a letter after finding out that I was on Helaspont but I never read it. I just deleted it. I hated the idea that she knew where I was… so I transferred and et voila- here I am. ::she sighed.:: I look a mess. ::she let out another humourless chuckle.::

Corliss: Too often people assume ‘forgive and forget’ means the literal version of the wording. Rather, it means to move on. I don’t blame you for not accepting her letter, whatever the insides of it contained. ::she curled her hands together in her lap, humming.:: So, you have trouble trusting others...which, I can’t say I quite blame you there.


Arlo sniffed anew and took a moment to compose herself.


Thornton: Yeah. I was never the most popular kid at school. I'd sooner sit and watch the stars than play Pareses Squares or Velocity. So when I connected with Cormoran and Javica, it was…. really special. Really special. We used to spend all of our time together, we dreamt about what we'd do with our careers and how we'd all end up serving as senior officers on a starship together. ::she laughed bitterly.:: And when I found out Javica had pressured Cormoran into pinning the blame on me to save their careers, it just….. it was just the worst possible feeling in the world. I was just shattered by it. The sense of betrayal was huge- and it never went away.


She fell into a sombre silence. Reliving the memories had been painful, opening a wellspring she had put a cork in four years ago. It was several minutes before she spoke again.


Thornton: Sometimes….. sometimes I think that I'll never be able to trust anybody in the same way ever again. I keep everyone at arm's length because I don't want to ever feel that way again.

Fortune: Actually, there’s many a ‘fun trick’ we can try to build you up back to the level of trust you once had. Everyone calls them ‘tricks’ ::she smiled, chuckling.:: I’m not sure why, but whatever pleases them.


Thornton: Go on. ::she said, a frisson of intrigue tuning her into Corliss' words.::

Fortune: Well, the smallest steps should always be taken. Baby steps, I’m told, despite babies not really walking? Isn’t it toddlers? A-Anyway, ::Corliss shook her head quickly.:: the first few steps is to delegate a few things to others. Perhaps asking someone kindly to pass you something from the replicator, or asking them to close the door behind them. You can step up to asking them to take over say, something you’re working on but haven’t done by end of shift, but for now I think the small ones will do.


She frowned, both confused and incredulous.

Thornton: That really works?

Fortune: Consciously, it does seem and sound very very strange. But it’s much akin to exercise. ::she flexed her fingers out, wiggling them before slowly drawing them into fists.:: You do the same thing every time, with the expectation of an end result. In this instance, you asking for some coffee, and then them giving you a cup. Mentally, your mind goes ‘oh! That’s what’s going to happen’ and it connects, like a plug. Plus, it’ll give you the opportunity to bond with our fellow crewmembers by checking in with them and perhaps doing a favor or two back. ::she paused.:: I’m not saying just...willy nilly ask them for a cup, you could ask for a PADD...I...does this make sense?


Thornton: I… think so?


Deep down, Arlo knew that she could not keep people at a remove in the long run. It was draining and it was cultivating her something of an unwanted reputation. Corliss was a trained psychologist and as difficult as it might be, she chose to defer to her experience. Had the situation been reversed and the Betazoid had come to her with a scientific issue it was probable that she would have deferred to Arlo.


Fortune: It’s just like the volunteering! ::she motioned at a plant with a smile.:: It’s not like they’ll go ‘Arlo will always jump to volunteer’, but it’s more like ‘well she helped out once, and it was a positive experience, so we know to trust her’. The mind builds up all these experiences and background information that we never really think about fully. Of course, I’m not saying ignore your gut reaction, if you think a situation is bad then do what you must, but reaching out to others-slowly-will help rebuild what was broken.


Thornton: Okay. ::she cleared her throat.:: I can try that. ::beat.:: Baby steps.


Fortune: Toddler steps?


Thornton: You're the first person I've confided in. ::she smiled kindly.:: It'll be a long road getting to where I want to be… but I…. I feel a little more optimistic and lighter. Thank you, Corliss.


Fortune: One of my favorite quotes is ‘a journey starts with a single step’, and a step is all it takes to get going! Now, is there anything else I can do for you?


With a small smile that felt surprisingly genuine, she pointed to another Capellan lotus.


Thornton: Please could you pass me that flower?

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