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[Round 15] Tonight, We Will Argue (part 1)


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JP - Lieutenant Karynn Ehlanii and Lt. Commander Ethan Brice - Tonight, We Will Argue, Tonight (Part 1)

((OOC: Ethan and I wrote this prior to his internet going crazy. He says he's sorry that he hasn't been able to post lately.))

((Ethan's Quarters, USS Ronin, the night before arriving at the protostar))

:: Like a throbbing heartbeat, wrist pain was starting to set in again. Ethan gripped his teeth together tightly and tried to fist his right hand. It wouldn't have it. He stopped trying. It hurt. It hurt to even try and that hurt more. He couldn't move his hand.::

:: The Doctors said it would take time, that the derma regenerator would be able to replace the tissue but any damage to the nerves couldn't be repaired as quickly. It would take an enormous amount of time and rehabilition; it would mean pain, a shocking amount of pain as the same thing had happened to his leg.::

:: He felt like crying. His leg he could live without but his hands... his hands were his life, they were his gift, he couldn't work without them. But, there was nothing the Doctors could do. He'd shouted and hit things and Ro had to calm him down but it didn't stop. It wouldn't stop.::

:: The bottle of whiskey was sat on the table in front of him. He hadn't drank from it yet, but it was tempting. Something was there that could numb the pain if he kept it going, he just couldn't bring himself to do it.::

::Karynn approached the door and took a deep breath in. Things had been...difficult lately. She had been watching him hurt and suffer and she couldn't do a thing about it. She couldn't touch him without feeling his frustration and pain, even when he tried to hide it. As much as it shamed her, the Haliian was worried that she had been restricting her contact with him more than she normally would. She had made excuses about being busy but... he had to suspect something was up, right?::

::Letting out her breath she pressed the keypad next to the door, causing the chime to ring. Tonight she came with a purpose. The question was would she manage to achieve her goals?::

:: Ethan went to stand up out of habit and promptly fell on the floor. It would have been insanely comical if the Engineer hadn't uttered a string of expletives afterward and pushed himself up off the carpeting.:: Brice: Come in!

:: He smacked his hands together to get rid of the bits of fluff and sat himself back down on the sofa, covering his face with his hands, as if wiping clean what had just happened.::

::Karynn heard a thud and some muttering before hearing his voice clearly invite her in. One more calming breath and she pressed a different button on the pad, causing the doors to slide apart. She cast a quick glance around the room assessing the situation. Her eyes lingered on the bottle of whiskey on the table in front of him. oOSo he's been drinking again.Oo She entered the room and approached the couch he was sitting on.::

Ehlanii: How are you managing today? Feeling up to something nice for dinner?

:: The Engineer shook his head. There was a distance between the two of them that he'd been feeling more over the past week, after the accident. They hadn't spent a lot of time together when before, they set aside time for each other; if he asked she was busy, if she asked he was busy. There was no happy medium.::

Brice: Not really in the mood for eating anything. Been taking those hypospray things, they kill the apetite.

::Karynn bit her lip and debated with herself. Should she sit next to him on the sofa? Or should she choose the comfortable distance of the chair? After what seemed to her like endless moments of indecision, but in reality was quite short, she choose the couch. But as she settled herself in, she made sure that she wasn't touching him, at least not yet.::

Ehlanii: Ah... no food then. ::She tugged on the lock of hair that had fallen from behind her ear and absentmindedly coiled it around one finger.:: Perhaps we could... read a book together? Or talk? ::the last option came out very tentatively. ::

:: Ethan looked at her and sighed inwardly. He was doing a bang up job of pushing her away but... No, he was [...] well within reason to do so! He hadn't been drinking, though he doubted the presence of the bottle on the table was helping. Instead, he scoffed to himself.::

Brice: Nah, not in the mood. Wanna read a book on Engineering? Read up on some schematics with me that I can't touch for months? Or how about a cookbook? I can't do that either! All I can bloody do is talk.

:: As if to punctuate the point, he picked up the book of M/ARA Designs and threw it, quite hard, against the opposite wall.::

::Karynn winced at the sound as the book impacted the wall. She stared at the floor in front of her. She was becoming an experienced counselor. So why couldn't she figure out the right thing to say.::

Ehlanii: ::softly:: Sorry.

:: And guilt seeped in. It wasn't her fault, he'd edged forward. He gripped his teeth together through clenched lips nd very calmly leant forward, picking up the whiskey bottle. That hurt, the sound of it in her voice. How could he ever let her inside if it hurt like that? Didn't she need to see those broken parts? Like it or not, it was the way it had to be. He wasn't having none of it.::

Brice: Come on then, what should I do, Counselor? What would you say to a patient like me? ::he stood up, leaning on the edge of the sofa to do so::

::The Haliian looked up at him as he stood. What would she say?::

Ehlanii: I'd tell you to find a Counselor to talk to... one that wasn't so... personally invested in the situation. ::She paused and glanced at him.::

:: Personally invested... He placed the whiskey bottle on top of the cabinet and looked out the viewport window at the rolling stars pin[...]ing the blackness.::

Brice: I can't stand to fly, you know.

::She blinked. That was... different. Definitely not the reaction she was expecting.::

Ehlanii: To fly? Like on a starship?

:: He tapped his numb hand on the cabinet top, keeping his eyes on the stars. He leant forward slightly.:: Brice: No, shuttlecraft. The small kind, you know... I hate it. A little box hurtling down through the atmosphere of a planet... it's risky.

:: He tongued his cheek.:: Brice: But, if I'd never done it, if I hadn't taken that first step, faced my fear then I wouldn't be able to see this.

::She smiled at him, unsure of where this would lead, but like a good counselor, she was determined to let it go where it needed to. Perhaps he had a reason... She nodded slightly.::

Ehlanii: So sometimes doing something risky is good...

:: He lifted an eyebrow and cracked a slight smile.:: Brice: So, if that's the case, why aren't you yelling at me?

::She breathed out the beginning of a laugh and cracked her own lopsided smile.::

Ehlanii: Just because it can turn out good, doesn't make it easy to take that first plunge. ::She bit her lip:: I came here intending to, you know? I'm worried about you Ethan...

:: He turned around, as best he could and leant against the cabinet, looking at her.::

Brice: Why? I'm not eating, I'm drinking most nights and not taking that hypo-stuff when I should do. I haven't ventured out of here in two days and I'm beginning to think my department is being run by my tools. What's there to be worried about?

::She stifled a laugh. It was time to be serious.:: Ehlanii: Exactly. You're drinking more than you used to, you aren't taking care of yourself, you're pushing your friends away and out of your life. Just because you're injured doesn't mean you can't go to the more enjoyable places on the ship... or hang out with the people who care about you. When is the last time you talked to Danny? or Ben? You need more support now, not less.

:: He nearly smiled. That was what he'd been waiting for.::

Brice: You think I'm doing all of this because I want to? Bloody hell, Karynn, I can't use this [...] thing! I can't even feel it! I don't know if it's permanant. :: he ran his left through his hair and started the beginnings of panic:: What if it is? What if I can't use it again; what if I can't feel it again? What happens then?

Ehlanii: What happens then? We'll figure it out. Your life won't be over. Your career won't be over. There are a number of things that can be done to allow you to live your life the way you want. And that's the worst case scenario. You don't know that it won't get better. Last I heard, the prognosis was fairly positive. It might take a lot of time and work, but Starfleet Medical does some amazing work these days and... well... Ro is your doctor...

Brice: But what if? That's the big question, what if? This is my hand, not some examples, not a statistic, not a controlled experiment. It's "mine". ::he ran his hand through his hair again:: I just... I don't know what to think. I don't know what to say to you. What do you want to hear? That I'll hobble down to Sarion and get her to fix me up something? For Gods sake, Karynn, tell me what to do!

::Her own frustration exploded as she raised her voice.:: Ehlanii: That's not fair! You know that's not what I want. I want you to talk to someone about it. The only way to get through those fears is to talk it out. And until tonight, you haven't. You haven't told me your fears about your arm. You haven't talked about the incident at all. You cut me out, pushed me away.

::Her reaction caught him completely off guard.:: Brice: You pushed yourself away! I didn't want to talk about it, it hurts, it's fresh, I'm still in crippling agony half the time but I have to sit down and talk about it? No, it doesn't work like that. It can't... you don't have any idea how this feels!

:: Again, the only way he could let it out was another book hitting the wall, this time taking one of his holocertificates down with it.::

::Another loud noise as the book hit the wall accompanied by another wince. She bit her lip and fought back the tear that threatened to leak out of her eye.::

Ehlanii: Of course I don't. It's never happened to me. But that doesn't mean I can't help you bear the burden of it. I should think I'd be a better friend than that bottle of yours, anyway.

::Her mouth snapped shut. As soon as she said it, she knew it was probably the wrong thing to say. It was why she hated fighting, why she'd rather avoid them or diffuse them before they started. She had a nasty habit of saying just the wrong thing and making it all worse.::

:: Ethan looked down to the floor. She was right. Like he'd been shot, the Engineer slid down the side wall to the floor. He wasn't holding back tears, they were starting to drip from the corners of his eyes. She was telling him to let her help, but it was hard; he'd lost a lot of self esteem. He knew what was at stake; in more than one way he'd let Karynn down, he'd let everyone down, he'd let himself down.::

:: That bullet was an icicle in his stomach, a cold realization that he would be lost without her. He looked up to her.::

Brice: There. You're in.

::Watching him cry released the tears from her own eyes. They flowed down as she crossed the room and sat next to him. oOIt wasn't supposed to be like this...Oo She reached out and offered her hand, a gesture of peace.::

Ehlanii: So talk to me. I'll sit here and listen. Won't even chime in unless you want me too.

:: It felt strange talking to someone about it, considering that he'd avoided it for the past few days. But, he couldn't think of how to tell anyone else. After she'd broke down his battlements, laid siege to his ego and won, Ethan was open about it. He didn't feel like bottling it up, instead she was willing to shoulder it with him... why he couldn't understand. He would've run a mile.::

:: He sighed and the back of his head gently touched the wall behind him.:: Brice: I didn't want to put this on you, Karynn, I still don't.

Ehlanii: I appreciate that. But you aren't putting it on me. I'm asking you to let me help you bear it. You can't do it alone. You can't bottle it up. It just isn't healthy. ...and I care enough about you to want to help.

:: He cracked a small smile and wiped a tear on the back of his left hand.:: Brice: I think I'm too messed up for you to deal with. I don't think I can be on your patient roster... but I'll let you practice on me, if you like.

::She smiled slightly.:: Ehlanii: I think you should definitely talk to the other counselor on staff too. Counselor Grax. He's good and I think he can help you through a lot. I don't want to "shrink" you as they say... I want to be your friend.

:: He nodded.:: Brice: I know. It was just hard, you know? I've never had anything like this before... ::he scratched the back of his neck:: I'm scared. Not the monster under the bed scared; the real scared type.

Ehlanii: ::nodding in understanding:: It scared me too.. when the chandelier fell on you... I was scared you were... ::she paused::

Brice: Wandering the great Engine Room in the sky? I suppose in that sense it could've been worse. ::he smiled slightly:: You know, I couldn't see you; the Docs thought I'd knocked my head and gone into a sort of premature coma. I was blind before I was in Sickbay. But... I could feel you. I didn't want you to leave.

Ehlanii: I didn't want to leave either. :: she paused again.:: But... it was more than that. When you went down, I realized there was so much we've left... unsaid... you know? And I was scared that I'd never have the chance to say those things to you.

:: Ethan looked to his side, at the young Haliian and eyes met. Maybe they were thinking the same thing; maybe not. So many times things happened in the spur of the moment... now just didn't feel right. Instead, the Engineer bumped her shoulder with his own.::

Brice: You can't get rid of me that easily.

::She chuckled:: Ehlanii: That's good. Wait... how did we get talking about my fears. Shouldn't we be talking about yours?

:: He [...]ed an eyebrow.:: Brice: Of flying and Haliian Counselors? ::he blew a sigh:: I don't know. I've done nothing but think in here; about everything, how anything could happen right now and it'll change my life, no matter what the outcome is. I don't want to be faced with the one option; going back to the Fleetyards, working on old decrepid ships with one good hand and one that can't flip someone the victory sign.

::The Haliian nodded:: Ehlanii: I can understand that.

Brice: I know.... just what if?

:: A small alarm started bleeping from the chronoclock and Ethan pushed himself off the wall to stand up. Walking wasn't that bad, once he got into the swing of it. He picked up the hypospray and set it neatly against his neck, hesitating for a minute, then he pushed the plunger.::

Brice: Pain killers... nature's alcohol.

Ehlanii: ::with a smile:: Just don't get addicted.

::She knew that the modern painkillers, unlike the narcotics of the past, were non-addictive. And even if someone did get addicted, the treatments for it were quite effective.::

Ehlanii: Going back to what you said... what if? Given the worst possible prognosis, what would you do?

:: Picking up the two thrown books, he tossed them onto the coffee table::

Brice: I suppose I'd have a few options; carry on working here as a senior but emergency Engineering hand or go back to the Fleetyards and oversee repairs. If it was the worst of the worst... I don't know.

:: He picked up his certificate and checked it over for cracks before looking over to her.::

Brice: If you were me, and you had... something... keeping you on the ship but you couldn't do your job, what would you do?

::She stopped and gave his question some thought.:: Ehlanii: I think I'd do what I could to find a way to stay... if I had a reason. ::She smiled:: I think I'd offer to help Sarion in Double Shot if it meant I could stay.

:: He laughed slightly, for the first time since he'd stepped out of the Wilde's Sickbay.::

Brice: A one-handed barman. That'd be a sight to see.

::Karynn laughed with him:: Ehlanii: Perhaps it was a bad example.

:: Ethan shrugged again.:: Brice: Maybe not.

:: Walking over to her, as best he could, he held his hand out to her and smiled in a crooked way. There was more to life than a career. There were more serious things to consider.::

Brice: The floor's no place for a lady.

::Taking his hand she stood.:: Ehlanii: Oh? I'm a lady now?

Brice: Brice: As far as medical science and xeniobiology would have pegged, yes you are indeed a lady. ::he winked::

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: I can live with that. ::As the laughter died away she looked at him seriously.:: Have you talked with him since the accident?

:: Ethan shook his head and leant against the sofa.:: Brice: No, I haven't. It wasn't him though, was it. He didn't shoot the phaser, it was the other one. ::he looked down at his hand:: I keep telling myself that but I can't bring myself...

Ehlanii: Its perfectly understandable. I couldn't tell the difference between the two of them.

:: He shrugged.:: Brice: After all these years, you'd think I would be able to.

Ehlanii: It seems to me that you were able to. In the conference room... you appeared to know that he was the other one.

Brice: Because it was only five minutes before that I found out. I didn't leave his side. We play poker, not Blackjack... he slipped up and... ::the young lad shook his head and sighed:: It doesn't matter now, does it?

Ehlanii: Hey... ::she rubbed his arm gently, trying to comfort him:: You did the right thing. You exposed him for who he was. I wasn't trying to accuse you of anything...

Brice: I know, I know... ::he smiled slightly:: I know. It's hard to seperate the real from the fake, in here. ::he tapped his temple:: I just have to keep myself from going crazy and rearing kittens.

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: Looks like that analgesic you're getting is still scrambling your brain. Rearing kittens?

:: The Engineer chuckled and touched her hand with his right one, the one he couldn't feel. It felt strange touching another hand with his own, after all he couldn't feel her hand, even though he knew it was there.::

Brice: Better than locking myself in Engineering and trying to become one with the warp core.

Ehlanii: ::still chuckling:: Much better. ::She stopped laughing and looked him in the eyes.:: Maybe you'll find it easier to tell the difference again if you spend time with ours. I bet he could use the company too.

:: He let an eyebrow lift.:: Brice: You think so?

Ehlanii: His wife is sick and possibly dying at Starfleet Medical and he's stuck here on ship. Yeah, I think he could use his best friend.

Brice: I'll.... I'll arrange something then. I imagine he's not going through the best of times right now, in that case.

::The Haliian wrapped her arms around him in a comforting hug::

Ehlanii: And I'll be here to talk afterward if you need it.

:: The human closed his eyes and kissed the side of her cheek, tucking his left arm around her.::

Brice: I'll probably need sobering up.

::She savored the kiss and the emotions that the close connection brought: it was the closest she had felt to him in days. She could tell that he was feeling more relaxed and more loved, but she could still feel the bitter undercurrent running through his emotions. Internally she sighed, knowing that he would need a lot of psychological help. Outwardly she smiled at his comment.::

Ehlanii: You two can't hang out without drinking, can you?

::He smiled.:: Brice: Of course; it was more of a... suggestion then an actual... ::he sighed and nuzzled her cheek:: I can't explain my way out of anything with you. No drink, no gambling, just... talking.

Ehlanii: ::she smiled back:: And you'll go see Counselor Grax?

Brice: Now that one might take a little more persuasion. I've never... never, ever, ever, ever, never spoken to a Counselor.

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: You just did, silly.

:: He poked her side playfully.:: Brice: You know, I forget that you do all that sometimes. You know the old saying, leave your professional life at work...

::She poked him back:: Ehlanii: Thus the reason I want you to talk to Grax instead of counseling you myself. He's not scary, you know. It shouldn't be any more difficult than talking to me.

Brice: Okay, I'll talk to him. He can shrink my brain and tell me it all relates to my father in some way, I know the score. ::he grinned:: Besides, wouldn't it be much more fun if you were Counselling me?

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: Your father huh? Is that still the perception? ::she shrugged:: As for more fun? It could be. On the other hand we could have horrible fights in the session or we could never get anywhere. Its a real toss up, and one of the reasons they recommend that you don't counsel someone very close to you, someone where there's a conflict of interest. Besides ::she poked him:: what if there's something important you need to tell your counselor but you don't want to tell me?

Brice: Well I thought it was a good idea, to be honest. Stuck alone with me in a room while we battle it out over issues relating to everything going on...

:: The young lad realised that it was probably the closest they'd physically been in a while, being so close, it was impossible to think that he hadn't wanted to see her less than an hour ago. He looked at her, watching her features with a calm sense of being.::

Brice: I've missed you.

::She reached up to play with a bit of his hair, hanging in his face.::

Ehlanii: I've missed you too. And I'm sorry... for all that I've done to... keep us apart over the past few days. ::She snuggled into his shoulder:: And you seeing a counselor doesn't mean we can't lock ourselves in a room and battle things out. It could be good for us, for our... ::she paused.:: ...for us.

Brice: I'm sorry, too; I didn't think... well, I didn't think. I want to talk about us... not now, but... ::he blew a sigh:: We both need some definition of... of what we're doing. If that makes sense. When we get time, when we feel right.

::She nodded:: Ehlanii: Not today, but sometime. We will, I promise. ::she smiled:: In the meantime, what do you say to heading to the holodeck, turning on that forest program of yours, laying in the grass and watching the sun set?

:: He smiled, genuinely.:: Brice: Now that sounds incredibly enjoyable.

The End

Lieutenant Karynn Ehlanii

Ship's Counselor

USS Ronin

and

Lt. Commander Ethan Brice

Chief Engineering Officer

USS Ronin

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