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Lt. JG Greg Able & Ens Sundasa Faranster - Chasing away the demons

Rykel Rior

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((Ensigns Faranster's Quarters))

:: Greg stood by the door. He was still a little nervous. He hadn't been on the ship an enormous length of time and Sun had been here even less time. Still, he felt he had to say his part. He'd been ordered to rest but hated sitting around. He'd tried to catch up on the latest from the Corps of Engineers but reading was still making his head throb. He'd gone down to the main engineering section only to be chased out by the staff who were under orders not to let him resume duties. In truth, save for Ethan, he didn't have much in the way of good friends. He got on well with all his colleagues and was friendly with all the people he worked with but... friends... real friends... were different. Finally plucking up the courage he tapped the door chime. ::

:: Sun had woken up a couple times from the nightmares she was having, deciding she was having no luck with sleeping, she had the replicator make a juicer for her to make juice out of the fruits in the basket. She checked the fruit carefully for the right combination and made herself some juice, the yield was just more than enough to fill a glass. She picked up her PADD and got comfortable on the couch in her living area. She was just getting into fantasy story when she heard the chime to her room. She paused. ::

.oO Who would be visiting me at this time of the night? Does anyone even know where my quarters are yet? I just got assigned... Oo.

:: She was puzzled by the chime of her door, but curiosity won her over. ::

Fananster: I'm up. Come on in.

:: Greg stuck his head around the door as it slid open, seeing here sitting reading on a couch in the room. He was relieved he hadn't done something like disturbed her in the middle of a shower or dropped by while she was out. ::

:: She was surprised to see Lieutenant Able enter through the door, then again, she was surprised anyone had visited her so soon after she was stationed on the ship, and so late at night. ::
Able: Oh, hey there. I... err... just dropped by to see how you were. We all took a hell of a beating down there, I... well I wanted to say thanks, too. You did one hell of a job.

Faranster: :: Her face relaxed and she put down her PADD on the little table next to the couch. :: Yeah, it was a rough ride. :: She smiled at the compliment. :: No better than you, you know you must be a genius with tools, working together something to fix up Ra like that.

Able: Just one of those talents you pick up when you’re an engineer, sometimes you don’t have the right tool, but you can make the right tool from what you have. I’m just glad I could do something to help Ra.

Faranster: Well, I am glad that the right combination of people were down there, not sure if I could have done what I did without the support of the rest of you.

Able: That’s what teams are for, I doubt we’d even have gotten out of there piece without your talents.

:: Greg was glad to see Sun relax a little and talk about what had gone on but wasn’t happy at just swapping platitudes. He needed to talk... really talk. ::

Able: So, how are you holding up?
:: She thought about the nightmares, was she that transparent? She wasn't sure she wanted to talk about it, but it was nice having someone ask the question with such concern. ::

.oO Sun, sometimes it's not about your answer to the question. Oo. :: She realized that she wasn't the only one up at this hour, looking into his dark eyes she wondered if there was more to the question, more to his visit. ::

Faranster: I’m managing, I think. Brain is too busy to sleep. :: Her smile this time was forced, she wasn't telling the whole truth, her brain was too busy scaring the crud out of her. :: What about you?

Able: If... you don’t want to talk about it feel free to tell me to buzz off, but I... :: He swallowed hard :: I was worried about you.

:: She thought about her behavior in the caves, he had been awake on and off for parts of it. She didn't know how much he remembered. She looked down at her cup of juice and took a sip. Truth be told, she had been worried about herself when she came back to the ship, but she distracted herself enough to keep her mind off her outbursts. ::

Faranster: My behavior... my anger on the surface... that's not me. I wouldn't tell you to buzz off.:: She looked up at his face once again, taking in his concern, realizing that wasn't all there was he was concerned about. :: Are you alright, Lieutenant Able?

Able: :: he sighed :: I dunno, my heads a bit of a mess. It might still be the effects of that gas or maybe... I just can’t believe we nearly died down there. I always thought I was gonna be prepared for this, when I joined Starfleet I knew the risks and always I accepted them as part of the job, but... I guess nothing can prepare you for actually almost dying. Especially on my first away mission.
:: Sun thought about that for a moment, she had seen him in critical condition, he might have even been dying. She had worried about him too, but she only knew the experience from her point of view. ::

Able: I had some pretty lucid hallucinations, I didn’t know what was real or what was my mind playing me up. Scared me three sides of stupid, I’ve gotta say.

:: By now Greg’s body language had changed from that of his usual air of happy confidence to that of a raw, young officer who was scared. Someone whose realisation had just come crashing in on him. Everything grandpa Able had told him about having your wits turned inside out on you, being scared to within inches of your life. It was true. It wasn’t all spring and roses either. Right now it felt like the worst thing in the galaxy. ::

Faranster: I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep my promise to bring you and Commander Lanius back. :: She paused again and closed her eyes as she said the rest.:: I was afraid everyone forgot about us.

Able: Hey. One thing you can always be sure of is that while you’ve got a crew behind you, no-one forgets you. It... was close though. I don’t think I appreciated how close until I looked back over the mission data from my tricorder logs.

:: She took in what he said, and remembered the trouble that the Apollo had in transporting them back, what would a couple more moments have done? She took a deep breath, not knowing how to react to the new information, she had panicked on the surface, she didn't want to know what knowing this would have done. ::

Faranster: We almost failed to come back at all, didn't we?

:: Greg saw Sun’s face fall a little as she spoke. ::

Able: Hey, hey. Nearly failing is succeeding, albeit by a narrow margin. We’re stood here talking, that means we got out. We’re both still alive and so’s Commander Lanius.

:: Greg could tell by now the experience had shaken her up badly too. She’d put a brave face on it in sickbay during the quarantine, but now he could see he wasn’t the only one reeling from the experience. ::

:: Sun was starting to relive those last moments in her mind with the new knowledge she had, she had to put down her juice to keep herself from spilling it. She took a few deep breaths, calming herself down.::

Faranster: Good thing we didn't know then how close things were, huh? :: She looked him in the eyes again, her eyes showing she wasn't quite recovered from the replay. ::

Able: I didn’t even know which way up was by then, I was tripping like I’d had one too many Romulan Ales. I guess that probably helped, one minute I was in a cave the next I was in sickbay, I hadn’t got a clue what was going on.

Faranster: I understand why we were left on the planet, during our quarantine I got to see the injuries that were priority. I don't think Lieutenant Williams would have made it if they picked us up.

Able: I didn’t see any of that, I only knew Alan was injured when I asked where he was this morning. I still have some last engineering briefs to get from him. He better not peg out on us.

Faranster: As for Commander Frost's injury, it was pretty bad too, not nearly as life threatening, but if the scar is any indication, it was a brutal phaser burn.

:: She closed her eyes again, remembering picking up Commander Lanius's rifle to defend them, she was shaken up at the time, and she couldn't imagine how shaken up she would have been had they actually been fired upon. So far she's been lucky as to not under fire. ::

Able: Hmmm... yeah. I did see him as we left sickbay. He looked a little rough.

Faranster: Have you ever been fired upon? :: The words came out of her mouth before she remembered what he said. :: Oh... it was your first mission too.

Able: Got shot in a holodeck training simulation once, not really the same thing although it hurt plenty.

:: She shook her head. She knew she needed target practice, she could shoot if needed, but she didn't feel too confident in her skill. ::

Faranster: I was thinking I needed practice... now I am wondering if I need more than that. I know I don't like to kill, I prefer healing, but if I were fired upon would I be able to hold up?

Able: Generally your self preservation instinct takes over automatically. There’s no harm in honing your aim and your reaction times, though. You can do it other ways than just hitting the target range. I played a lot of Parises Squares and Springball at the Academy, it keeps you fit, strong and able to move. But... yeah. Grandpa Able was a Marine, I got good advice.

Faranster: A game might make training more interesting... :: She took that thought into consideration, wondering about combining target practice with live targets but in a fun manner, a way to avoid injury.:: Must be easier with more military training...or advice.

Able: Yeah... that’s true. Doesn’t scare me any less than others though. He told me himself the day you stop being scared’s the day you get yourself killed.

Faranster: Well, that's reassuring... :: It didn't feel too reassuring though. What did it mean? The key to staying alive was being scared? That the only way you won't be afraid is when you die? Or when you forget your fear, you get [...]y and get killed? None of those seemed pleasant, and she was pretty sure her tone expressed her frustration with that piece of advice. ::

:: The room fell silent for a moment. Greg’s eyes flicked down to his feet briefly. ::

Able: Have... you had any nightmares? I keep having this weird one where I’m lying paralyzed and all the people in my life are walking around me. Maybe I need a counselor...

:: She stared at him, he asked the question, did he know the answer? The nightmares, dreams of the crew leaving her behind and telling her how insignificant she was. Nightmares that included their councilor, which she had yet to meet formally. She knew she had to schedule an appointment to get her initial evaluation done, and she didn't know how she felt about it. ::

Faranster: Actually, that was why I was awake.

:: She paused again, he was leading her down an emotional road, and she couldn't say no, part of her wanted to talk about it, the other part wanted to hide it. She pulled her lower lip in between her teeth, she could feel the pressure in her nose and eyes as her emotions started teetering towards crying. ::

Faranster: Every time I closed my eyes, I was in the cave, and someone was telling me that I was unimportant and could be left behind. The exits both walled off, and everyone was walking through the rock, except me... I couldn't.

:: She leaned forward, her hands suddenly covered her face, her eyes stinging with the tears that she denied herself on the planet, and in the sickbay. She wanted to be happy, she wanted to recognize that people were concerned about her and cared. She wanted to remember that Captain Jaxx said he would personally fly down to get them, but none of that outweighed the emotions caused by the memories and the dreams. She struggled with trying to control the sobs, trying to prevent judgment of her emotional state, but her shoulders heaved despite her attempts.::

:: Greg suddenly felt a pang of guilt. He’d obviously tripped on a very sore nerve. He had to admit he’d woken up in the night three times himself in cold sweats scared rigid that he might never move again. This was different though. Sun’s emotions were obviuosly boiling just below the surface. He sat down discretely next to her on the sofa, and placed an arm round her shoulders. He felt slightly awkward but at times like this just knowing someone else was there was often enough. ::

Able: Hey... hey. It’s okay.

:: Sun became aware of the extra weight on the sofa, and the awkward pat of her shoulders. They had just met and been put in a stressful situation, and now she was up to her neck in her emotions, emotions that once again were out of her control. She tried to focus on the analogy that she used with Ensign Pierce earlier that evening, it had been about anger, one of the most unpleasant emotions to feel, fear was the next one, in her mind, but only barely ahead of loneliness. ::

:: Greg’s words felt hollow. He didn’t know Sun that well, he also didn’t exactly have a rich history when it came to comforting people in times of emotion. He felt he had to say something, though, just a reassuring word. Being there for people was part of being in Starfleet, or at least that was what he supposed. Crew stuck up for each other and propped each other up when they were down. Team spirit, right? No, right now he was in a strange room with a person he’s flown one mission with. That person needed comfort. He happened to be here, so she needed him. ::

:: Her shoulders dropped, she wasn't sure what she wanted to say, or even think. If she had been alone she would have music playing while she cried, it helped her focus on something else while she got the tears out, transitioning her from one mood to a more upbeat mood. She found in the Academy that she became partial to 'Sing Sing Sing' playing during one of these fits, the drum beat going into various brass and woodwinds would almost always make her start feeling better as the instruments sung to her. ::

Faranster: I'm... sorry. :: She managed to get out, sniffing slightly between words. :: Trying...to...calm...down.

:: Greg gave a gentle squeeze of Sun’s shoulders. His throat suddenly felt desert dry and that familiar ache grated at his consciousness. He felt the familiar itch in the corners of his eye. Hammering back his emotions as best he could, he held himself fast. This wouldn’t help. Get a hold of yourself. He swallowed hard, wondering on the edge of his mind if Sun had noticed the sudden change in his demeanour. A solitary tear slid down his face. ::

:: When Sun felt the pressure on her shoulder tighten slightly, she instinctively leaned closer, into the comforting arms. A part of her knew that it was a soothing gesture, the other part knew it was warm arms, both welcomed the gesture. She was still sniffling and struggling to regain control as she listened to Greg ramble. ::

Able: I guess this shook us both up pretty bad, huh? I haven’t felt this rough since I got my first rejection letter. But then, that turned out okay in the end. Maybe this will too.

:: Greg was just blundering through random thoughts now. Thinking aloud. Wondering if Sun was even listening or if she was completely absorbed in trying to batten down her own emotions. ::

:: She wiped away her tears as she paid attention to what he had said. She was finally able to regain her composure, he was amusing her with his awkward attempts at trying to comfort her, and he was also getting emotional about the ordeal. But he was right, everything was going to be okay. They weren't left behind or forgotten, they were sitting here able to talk about the experience, relive the moments. It was something of the past, and they were dwelling on it.::

Faranster: Of course things will turn out alright. :: Her cheeks felt caked with the salt from her tears having dried as she smiled. :: I'd say the sun will be out tomorrow, but being that we're in space, the suns are always out.

Able: Hm. :: he smirked and shook his head a little at the unexpectedly lighthearted comment :: You got that right.

Faranster: What do you usually do to make yourself feel better when you are feeling blue,... Lieutenant? :: She paused, she almost called him Greg, but wasn't sure if that was appropriate. ::

:: She was still leaning towards him, she had made a mental note in the academy not to be overtly friendly, worried about reactions of those who weren't comfortable with the interactions. It took her a moment to shake her mind free and she moved so she wasn't leaning on him, she hoped she didn't make him uncomfortable unintentionally.::

:: Greg felt her suddenly pull away from leaning against him. He’d hardly noticed, he’d been more intent on comforting her. It had made him feel better, if nothing else. ::

Able: Game of spring-ball, coffee and a slice of lemon cheesecake, jog round the decks a bit. I used to meet up with friends at the Academy every Friday and fritter the evening away talking about all sorts of... nonsense. That all seems so far away now.

Faranster: :: She looked slightly embarrassed, she felt like she was the only one noticing her actions and her sudden shift made them more noticeable. :: I'm sorry, Lieutenant. I... :: She didn't know how to explain her reaction. :: I... I shouldn't let my emotions carry me away.

Able: Hey, don’t worry about it. I think we... both... got a little emotional there. Don’t worry. My mom always used to say it’s better to let your demons escape now and again than keep them shut in a box. Missions like this can often lead to a few more demons than you can keep a lid on sometimes, I guess.

Faranster: Well, I actually enjoy many of the positive emotions... :: She wasn't sure if someone observing her over the last day would agree. ::

Able: Yeah, I suppose when it’s all going well and there’s reason for feeling achievement then it’s all good. I just didn’t really feel like we got what we wanted from that mission, really. We just got shot up bad by a bunch of mercs. :: He sighed :: Anyway, we’re supposed to be cheering ourselves up. What’s your favourite way to recharge?

Faranster: I find music helps pick me up, I heard a peculiar saying while in the academy... Music appeases brutal monsters?... No... :: She looked at the ceiling for a couple moments, she knew the saying well, she felt it was true, even before hearing it. :: Music has charms to sooth a savage beast. Yeah, that was it.

Able: Ah, yeah. :: He smiled. :: One of my grandpa’s favourite sayings. Music’s something that seems to be pretty universal to most species, in one way or another. Ever been to a Jazz club? I used to love hanging out in Jazz clubs when I was back home.

:: She smiled and nodded, feeling his eyes on her. ::

Able: Hey, I know. I brought some holodeck programs with me of some of my favourite places, maybe we could kick back in one of them sometime? What do you say?

:: She could tell from his tone that he was feeling better. She wondered what these places he had programmed were. He made it sound like music was involved, which sounded good to her. ::

Faranster: Good music? Good company? :: She turned toward him slightly, now able to look at him and smiled broadly. ::

Able: Deal. I can even lay on some lemon cheesecake if you’re interested. :: He grinned briefly, feeling back to himself a little more .::

Faranster: As long as it's homemade. :: She liked how his face lit up when he grinned, it made him look much more handsome than the concerned look on his face that he started with. They had something in common, a shared experience, and a night of talking between them. It was a start of a good friendship, she thought. ::

Able: Oh, you bet. Grandma’s own recipe. A replicator ain’t got nothin’ on this! :: He chuckled a little. ::

Faranster: Thank you. For stopping by, and talking with me. It was unexpected, and emotional. :: She smiled at him again, the end of the conversation was definitely better. :: And, pleasant. I'm glad you decided to visit me.

Able: Me too. You wouldn’t believe how many times I wandered past your door before I decided to call in. I’m glad I didn’t chicken out. It was... nice to let some demons free. Anyway, I ought to let you get back to your book. I need ot get some shut-eye myself, I’ve been up since 0500 hours.

:: Greg stood decisively, straightening his shirt, as if by habit. He smiled and set off towards the door, feeling a little awkward to just walk out.::

:: Sun stood up and followed him to the door, glad to make a new friend, one that knew what she was going through. She almost hugged him before he left her quarters, but she thought that she might want to give him some more time to get to know her to not make him uncomfortable. ::

:: Greg turned to face her at the door, he could tell from her face she felt better. He did too, much better. He gave her a light, friendly tap o the shoulder and smiled again.::

Able: Thanks. :: smiling, he stepped backwards out of the door ::

:: Greg walked down the corridor with a certain spring in his step. He felt like a thousand tons had been lifted off his shoulders. ::

:: When she was alone in her quarters, she drank the rest of her juice, and left her PADD on the table where she put it before heading back to bed, this time, if nightmares haunted her, she was going to use the knowledge of having someone on her side to fight them off. ::


Lieutenant JG Gregory Able
Chief Engineering Officer
U.S.S. Apollo NCC-71669


Ensign Sundassa Faranster
Medical Officer
USS Apollo
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