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Lt. Cmdr. Rahman & Dr. del Vedova: Dollmaker

Sedrin Belasi

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(( Sickbay, USS Garuda ))

:: Del could get used to the Galaxy-class, but he did wish he didn’t feel so [...] guilty admitting that to himself. After all, it wasn’t as though Aron was dead -- in fact, it wasn’t as though Aron and he had even really been good friends any longer. But after cleaning out his quarters with Alora DeVeau, Del found that he just didn’t have the heart to accept the latter as true, and so he was stuck feeling terrible, even as he stretched out in the large office off of the main sickbay. It was cushy, truly: He had an office, Saveron had an office, Kotir had an office, Hawkeye had an office -- hell, even his head nurse had an office. The Galaxy-class, he’d decided, must’ve been dense as hell, since it was honeycombed with nothing but offices.

In fact, that was where he’d decided to spend much of his leave time. Like his old office, this one had a very nice window, and he’d spent a long time looking out of it at the station or down at Eta Corvi IV and not doing much else, even though he had a lot to do, not the least of which was unpack his office things. But, he had to admit that there was another reason that he was slightly nervous -- and unless he was much mistaken, it was currently waiting in the hall. ::

DEL VEDOVA: You can come on in. I saw your shadow out there.

RAHMAN: Oh, I... didn't want to interrupt you.

DEL VEDOVA: You’re not. Don’t be silly.

:: To prove it, he set down the box he hadn’t been unpacking and held his free hands up, palms facing her. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Anyway, if you’ve decided that now would be a good time, I’m not going to disagree. You’re the one who has to undergo the procedure. (beat) If that is what you’re here for.

RAHMAN: ::nods:: Yes, if now would be a good time?

DEL VEDOVA: Absolutely. Come on.

:: As it so happened, much of the nursing staff and nearly all of the techs and docs were over on DSX or otherwise occupied on the Garuda. Del didn’t need an assist, but he had to admit that he found the utterly empty Sickbay to be slightly disconcerting. Still, he had his work to do, and he was with a friend -- or at least he hoped she was. Maybe he was about to find out. Which, once he thought about it, really put too much weight upon the procedure; in this context, this complex and fiddly context, she had to be a patient only. Didn’t she? ::

:: She followed him over to another corner of sickbay and sat down at a small table where various instruments had been set up. She waited as he left to retrieve a small box. When he returned, he set it on the table and opened the lid. ::

DEL VEDOVA: You want to examine them first? See if they’re up to spec?

:: She peered into the box to see two detached biosynthetic digits resting on a bed of smooth fabric that almost looked like silk. If someone had stepped in at that moment to witness the exchange, they might have thought Del was channeling his inner post-Impresionist by presenting the strangest belayed birthday gift yet to his friend. ::

RAHMAN: They look... nice.

:: She shrugged and gave him a goofy smile. ::

RAHMAN: I'm sorry, I don't know what else I'm supposed to say about a couple of fingers in a box.

:: Del snapped it closed again, realized he needed it open, reopened it, and set it down on the tray beside the bed. In truth, he didn’t know what he expected her to say, either: “Oh, good, it looks like I’ll have fun with those?” “Great job, Del, let’s be best friends?” He smiled shortly, though more at her expression than at his own desire, which he’d managed then to mask as a joke and preferred not to think about just then. ::

DEL VEDOVA: That they’re the most beautiful phalanges you ever did see, obviously. (beat) It’s not easy to induce biocybernetics to pluripotency that quickly, I’ll have you know. It’s not like we can just replicate them. It’s a long process, and complicated! Not as simple as a couple of fingers in a box.

RAHMAN: Well, as long as they work.

:: He met her eye for just a moment, all too aware that at the end, he’d strayed from talking directly about the fingers themselves. ::

DEL VEDOVA: They will.

:: As Del prepared himself for the procedure, he ran quickly through a mental list of the instruments he’d need and then checked them against the table he’d prepped. Yes, it would be a meticulous procedure, but it shouldn’t end up being so long or so hard. Really, the difficulty would be in syncing the nervous system and ensuring that the new fingers were properly vascularized or she’d be throwing clots like crazy. Not that she needed to know that yet, he didn’t think, although…. ::

DEL VEDOVA: You are aware of the risks of this procedure, aren’t you? I sent you the material, but I’m not going to stand over your shoulder while you read it. You’re an adult, you can make an informed decision.

:: He sat down across from her and began arranging the tools to his liking. The meticulous attention to placing each instrument in the proper place was almost hypnotic that it took her a second to realize he had asked her to do something. She smiled sheepishly. ::

RAHMAN: Oh, sorry...

:: Well, she clearly hadn’t been listening at all. He sighed. ::

:: She extended her left hand forward and was a bit surprised when he grabbed it rather suddenly and firmly. He twisted it a bit to place it in position for the procedure. ::

RAHMAN: Agh, careful now. I'm not a doll.

DEL VEDOVA: No, you’re not. Right now, you’re a living, breathing Kriosian who’s undergoing a delicate surgical procedure, so mind you follow instructions, hm?

RAHMAN: Hmmph.

:: She wanted to cross her arms and give him the usual eye roll, but with him holding one of her arms already, she had to settle for propping the other arm on the table and resting her chin in her palm as she looked at him with mild indignation. ::

:: Well, if it was a life and death situation, he wouldn’t have considered that response informed consent, but he figured her presence in the place was consent enough to proceed. He flash-sterilized the hand up to the wrist and then did the same to his own, his instruments, and the new fingers before he administered the nerve block. ::

DEL VEDOVA: You’re not going to feel anything below the wrist. That’s normal.

:: He didn't give her much time to process the disclaimer. With the laser scalpel, he opened the first finger’s stump and swooped in at once with his magnifiers to begin tying the veins and nerves together. ::

:: He kept a steady grip on her with one hand as he performed the delicate work with his other. She gazed around the larger Galaxy class sickbay. ::

RAHMAN: So... how are you liking the new facilities?

:: He barely glanced up. He was just then connecting the digitales palmares, and it required his close attention, even as the nanobots did their work at a level too small for him to see. ::

DEL VEDOVA: ‘s nice. ‘s missing something, though.


:: Her eyes continued to dart around the room, noting the various pieces of equipment lying about, many of which she had only seen before at the medical starbase where she had stayed following the accident aboard the Tempest nearly eight years ago. ::

RAHMAN: That seems difficult to believe considering how much excess I feel they've installed aboard. ::grins:: I know Cybernetics is certainly happy though with the upgrade they've gotten in terms of facilities...

:: She looked back at him to see he was still focused intently on the medical procedure in front of him. Which is as it should be, of course. Yet, she nonetheless felt disappointment that their conversation seemed an afterthought to him so far, as unwarranted as that feeling might have been. ::

:: She decided to prod a little further. ::

RAHMAN: All right, then, doctor. Maybe I can put the requisition order in for you. You are talking to the ship's second officer, after all... what's missing?

:: Wait, what had he said? The digitales palmares in that finger was complete, and the nanobots were now working furiously on the neural connections. These were much trickier, and he was monitoring closely, instructing the others manually to carry away a dead ‘bot whenever one was zapped by an errant charge. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Aron. Also you. You never visit. And now he won’t.

:: The answer genuinely caught her off guard. Not because it wasn't true, and not even because she hadn't realized it, but because it was said so plainly. He didn't even look up from his work nor expand upon the thought. It sounded more like a simple observation than a complaint. ::

:: In the weeks and months following that night in sickbay when Del and Captain Kells had confronted her, she had made a conscious effort to avoid sickbay. Which was utterly foolish. Here, Captain Kells had given her an answer, or at least a direction towards an answer to her problems, and instead of capitalizing on it, she had instead chosen so far to try her best to ignore it. And part of that had meant ignoring Del, too. ::

RAHMAN: ...I know.

:: There! That was one finger completed. Now he had only to monitor the osteoblasts and then apply the dermal regenerator, and that was only the work of a few moments. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Do you want to?

:: His eyes remained locked onto her hand as she looked back at him with a bit of remorse. ::

RAHMAN: Yes. (beat) Very much so.

DEL VEDOVA: Well, then, you should.

:: Then, the first finger finished, he sat back slowly, stretched his back, and looked her in the eye. His voice, his demeanor was completely changed. ::

DEL VEDOVA: There! First finger, back to work!

RAHMAN: Wait! I wanted to say...

:: Her voice trailed off as she saw the new finger start wiggling slightly. Her eyes shifted between the finger and Del for a moment before she chuckled. ::

RAHMAN: I'm not doing that.

DEL VEDOVA: Well, you think you're not. It's going to take a little while for your perceptions and your somatic nervous system to sync up, but you'll be there in under an hour.

RAHMAN: Okay, good. Otherwise, I'd be afraid of accidentally hitting the warp core eject button.

:: Already Del had begun to work on the second finger, but he stopped just short of the full sterilization. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Yeah, well, me, too! Or did you think I didn't have a stake in this, hm? Arrogant engineers....

:: He started to get back to work, but Roshanara called out again. ::

RAHMAN: Wait, Del, you were talking about missing me... well, me and Aron -- Captain Kells.

:: She didn't want to sound too immodest. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Oh, I did? (beat) Did I?

:: She returned a frustrated glare. She wasn't sure if he was being his usual difficult self now or if he had genuinely not realized what he'd said. ::

RAHMAN: Yes, actually.

:: Del shrugged. With the sterilization complete and the first cut underway, he was again bent closely over her, and the shrug wasn't exactly a motion she would've recognized. ::

DEL VEDOVA: I said a lot of things. I think out loud when I'm working. Helps to keep my mind focused.

RAHMAN: Well, anyway...

:: She waved with her other hand at the tools. ::

RAHMAN: Go ahead. Let's finish what we started.

:: He didn't need to be asked twice. With the wound re-opened, he dove in and began the revascularization procedure again, knitting the materials together with his army of nanobots and fully focused upon the task at hand, save for the sliver of his mind that occupied itself with talking. ::

DEL VEDOVA: I suppose I was talking about him. Come to that, I've been thinking a lot about him, especially since Alora DeVeau and I went through his quarters. Also, not just him, but friendships in general. Ours, specifically.

:: As he set back to work, she watched him now instead of his surroundings. She had always enjoyed bruising the egos of overly confident physicians and teasing Del, especially when he was bumbling about in her domain of engineering. Truthfully, though, she did respect their work, and here, now, watching Del perform in his domain, she realized how much she respected him. ::

RAHMAN: You know, he told me something... before he left.

DEL VEDOVA: Who did? Aron did? What'd he say?

:: Del couldn't have stopped at that point if he'd wanted to -- he was on to the neural connections -- but he found that, just after the split second in which he really wanted to see her face and her expression, came a much longer time period in which he wanted to avoid looking at her or even hearing the answer to the questions he'd asked. ::

RAHMAN: He had sent everyone else but Doctor Saveron and myself back to the Garuda. And at the time, I was still processing the fact that he was leaving so suddenly that I didn't really think about what he said.

:: Well, there: She hadn't said anything at all. A whole platoon of nanobots went dead, fried by a calcium overload, and Del made an angry noise deep in his throat before he asked. ::


RAHMAN: He said we shared a friendship in you. And that the friendship you and I had... the one that he remembered enduring over the next decades... was something worth saving.

DEL VEDOVA: Did he now?

:: But Del's voice, even from the depths of the surgery, was steady, calm. He wanted to know more, oh yes, but there were those final polarizations to attend to, and now he had to heal over the whole shebang... ::

:: Her voice grew unsteady now. No! She wasn't going to cry now. She'd already broken down once in front of Del outside the holodeck. But she did need to tell him. She looked for a moment at her hand still in his grasp before continuing. ::

RAHMAN: I want to believe that part of my future is true: that you'll be there with me. Even if I'm scared about the rest that's to come.

:: Especially because she was scared about the rest that was to come. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Well, you don't need to worry about a thing, because -- your second finger is finished!

:: He sat back again, and for the first time since his last major emergency surgery, he felt his body sweat. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Also because we are friends and will always be. Okay?

:: She sat for a moment just looking at her two new fingers. The first had stopped wiggling, but the newest one was now starting to waver back and forth. She then looked back at Del, with an unrestrained smile. ::

DEL VEDOVA: You didn't think so?

:: She blinked, trying to hold back a tear, and sniffled. ::

RAHMAN: I… I didn’t know what to think. I was afraid I had messed it up.

DEL VEDOVA: Is that it, really?

:: That made her finally lose it as she felt a tear break through her composure. She laughed as she wiped it away with her other hand. ::

RAHMAN: Yes, that’s it really. God, you’re such a [...]!

:: She held her left hand in her right, looking down at the set of fingers, now complete again, and smiled. Del had done a meticulous job. Her hand still showed the scars from her original accident, but unlike her previous two replacements, the new digits blended in with their colleagues perfectly. ::

RAHMAN: But I’m glad you’re my doctor. (beat) And my friend.

:: Del was already putting away his tools. He looked down for a moment, then back again, straight into her eyes. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Neither of those has changed, or will ever. You know that -- even if I sometimes forget.

:: Del finished his cleanup, tapped into the computer to mark the surgery’s end on Rosh’s chart, a chart that he would now go and file into her long and complicated history -- but he looked back at her before he went. ::

DEL VEDOVA: You’ll want to check in with Dr. V’Las. She’s the new physical therapist, and she’ll want to work with you as you learn to use those new fingers. (beat) And how about lunch tomorrow?

RAHMAN: ::nods:: I'd like that.

DEL VEDOVA: Good. See you then.

:: He’d kept his voice calm and even, and he waved the PADD with the chart he’d transferred over to it as he headed back to his office and S’Riss headed over to finish up with Rosh. He did look back once, though, and of course when he did he saw her looking, too. He winked.

What was he thinking? He had never been a winker. But now, he thought, maybe that had changed. ::


JP By:

Lt. Cmdr. Roshanara Rahman

Chief Engineer and Second Officer, USS Garuda


Dr. Nic del Vedova

Chief of Emergency Services, USS Garuda

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