‘And I really do not want to be here.’
“I know that Rex.”
‘You know Rikata messaged this guy.’
“Yes, I know.”
‘You know Rik probably told him every…’
“Rex! I know that!” Heriah nearly shouted to the side as though Rex was standing right beside her. To her embarrassment, there was the random crewman beside her taken aback at her outburst.
“I’m sorry,” she said to him. “I was just…”
‘Talking to yourself again.’
The crewman nodded his understanding and stepped away toward wherever it was he was going.
It had been some days now and Heriah’s desk was inside this office area and she had not even visited yet. Not to meet her boss, not to meet the other personnel, not to introduce herself. But seeing as how she would be working here, not to mention this was a stop on her in-processing checklist, going through these doors was going to happen. She did not want to meet the resident psychiatrist, but Elegy Weld was her boss. Heriah felt she had had her fill of shrinks but somehow wound up being a quasi-shrink herself.
She thought that perhaps this would simply be a meet and greet with Elegy and that he would not try to ask any psychological questions. But, if Rikata had sent all the information Heriah was afraid he had sent, then perhaps that thought was all in vain.
‘We could always kill him.’
Heriah threw that forced thought away and stepped within proximity of the doors. They slid open invitingly and Heriah finally entered into the office of her workspace. She already knew where the office of Elegy Weld was and went straight there. It was time to get this started and over with.
Arriving at his office door, she pressed the chime alerting him that someone had come calling.
“Come,” Doctor Weld called out, and the computer understood to release the privacy locks on the doors.
When the doors parted, they revealed Lieutenant JG Elegy Weld was halfway to his feet, rising from one of the arm chairs. A holographic PADD winked out and Elegy put on a smile for Heriah. “Good morning and welcome,” Elegy said. He smoothed out the medical smock he wore over his uniform. Elegy assumed he would tire of it eventually, but it still meant a lot to him, given his official graduation from the medical academy. Sweeping a hand out to indicate the other furniture in the room, Elegy said, “Please some in and make yourself comfortable. Can I get you a refreshment?”
Heriah, smiling, stepped in. “Morning…sir. And thank you. Alle’Ke’Zonda’er red, if you please. It’s a tea,” she explained. “I already programmed it into the replicator matrix.” She stopped halfway into his office before realizing she needed to finish off with, “sir,” as he was her superior officer as well as her boss.
Looking about the room as Elegy made his way to the replicator, Heriah took in the sights. It felt truly like a counselor’s office. In this case, a psychiatrist’s. She felt a revulsion in her gut and pushed the feeling aside.
She took another step, remembering that he instructed her to make herself comfortable and started toward a chair. “I have been spending the past few days getting familiar with Bravo and,” she looked at her PADD, “completing my in-processing. I am not done yet, sir, but should be soon.”
While he was fussing with the replicator, Elegy cast a glance back over his shoulder. “While you’re behind those doors,” he said, nodding to the way Heriah had just come, “You can call me Elegy or El. Everyone does, I assure you.” Following the satisfying hum of the replicator, he carried the requested mug of tea to Heriah, and he sat himself in another arm chair with a glass of iced coffee between his hands. Elegy offered, “It wasn’t so long ago I completed my own onboarding. What can I do to make your in-processing easier?”
‘Put your signature on this thing so we can get out of here.’
“I cannot think of anything at…”
‘And while you’re at it, forge the rest of these…’
“Well there really is nothing you can do to make it easier…sir. I mean Elegy,” she quickly added. She smiled at him awkwardly. “I suppose you may call me just Heriah…minus the ‘just’ of course. Or Khatain. Some like to call me Khat. You know, like the animal?” She made a scratching motion in the air with her hand and gave a “meow. Alternatively, some call me Rex.”
‘As it should be.’
“But you may call me whatever you…um…deem necessary, sir…Elegy. You’re the boss here.”
Between sips of his drink, Elegy nodded what Heriah told him and he chuckled briefly when she mimed a cat-like pawing movement. At being called the boss, Elegy stiffed in his seat. “Even so, I’d still rather call you whatever you like to be called most,” Elegy said earnestly. He took another sip and he set his glass down on an end table. “Please tell me if I’m jumping ahead too quickly,” Elegy said; “Have you put any thought into your personal goals now you’ve been assigned to Starbase Bravo? What would success look like to you in your first six months here?”
“Well…, sir Elegy…not ‘Sir Elegy’ making you a ‘sir’ and all,” despite that he was her superior officer, “in the sense that…” Heriah shook her head embarrassingly, throwing away her attempt at correction. She simply pressed on. “Success, to me,” she said as she connected eye to him, “means…to be…an integral part…of this crew. After my first six months here, I aim to be considered indispensable, to be recommended as an automatic response when a counselor is needed and to be sought out by those who requires my services.” Heriah even surprised herself that she went from a nearly nervous wreck attempting to form a coherent thought before her boss to speaking succinctly and speedily. “In six months time, when someone says the word ‘counselor’, I want my name to surface in people’s minds.” And her little speech was all due to help from, “Rex. Er…Heriah…um…Rex.”
‘That’s much better though the prior is preferred.’
“And that is what you may call be…or…that is what I prefer.” Realizing she had not spoken on the name she would prefer to be referred to by, “Heriah, that is. Heriah is fine.”
Nodding deeply, Elegy said, “Heriah it is then,” with a flash of a smile. “I would say becoming well-regarded and oft-requested as a counselor is entirely achievable for you. We’ve had a challenging start to the year with the Century Storm. Civilian traffic through Bravo was far greater than would be typical, many of them passing through these offices too. More than ever, the crew appreciates the value we bring to our patients. I would be happy to explore any resources or strategies you need to achieve your goals.” –Elegy shifted in his seat and he bit his lower lip briefly– “Is there anything you think could get in your way of achieving that goal?”
‘You. Getting in my way.’
Heriah looked down briefly and crossed her arms across her belly as though that would really silence Rex.
“I cannot think of any hindrance save for not doing the job.”
‘So have him sign his name and we can be out of here.’
“The sooner I can get my office assigned and set up, the sooner I can hop on the job.”
‘I bet you want to hop on something.’
“Though I would enjoy working from my quarters when allowed.”
‘You can hop on things there too.’
Heriah sighed, though made it appeared gleefully. “I just…cannot wait to get to work.” She looked at the PADD upon the table with her in-processing checklist displayed, awaiting Elegy’s affirmation that she checked in with him.
“To be honest,” Elegy said, following his curiosity wherever it led him, “I noticed a shift in your energy there.” –He squinted at Heriah briefly and then assumed his neutral expression from before– “Can you tell me more about the enjoyment you get from meeting with patients in your quarters instead of an office?” he asked.
Heriah had started to feel a nervous tingly feeling as he annunciated his noticing of her shift in energy. It did not help that a burst of nervousness came from Rex as well. She felt nearly on the edge of becoming unglued but Elegy did press on with his inquiry.
“My enjoyment,” she said and then paused, thinking on what it truly was that she enjoyed the most about meeting patients in her quarters. She rested her hand in her lap, left on top of the right. “My enjoyment is seeing their enjoyment. Yes, we have a waiting room, sometimes a line of those waiting to be seen but it all boils down to someone having to come to the Counseling Office, having to walk through that door out there, having to know and be reminded that they are a patient, here to see someone and tell them things they would rather not tell anyone else.”
She let that sink in a second.
“Now think of a patient that has an invitation to meet for a session in a counselor’s quarters. They do not have to come into this office area, they do not have to see other counselor’s or see, or be seen by, other patients, all or some possibly wondering what is wrong with this one. Having a session in the counselor’s quarters will remove much of the restraint and nervousness and will add a degree of relief as they know they have been invited into the quarters, the personal space of the person from whom they seek help. It is my experience that patients will open up more easily in that situation than an office area such as this.”
“This does not mean.’ Heriah continued, “that I do not want to work out of the office at all. I understand there will be times of many patients seeking assistance, when we will have a full waiting room. You can bet I will be in the office then. If the schedule allows, however, I would like to meet patients in my quarters. I will gladly do it after normal duty hours even.”
She took a breath and realized she was done with her little speech. Smiling, she sat there looking back at Elegy. Her hands were still resting in her lap; left still on top of right, concealing it. Her right hand balled into a fist; tight enough for her nails to begin digging into her palm. There was a little pain, but…
‘Pain feels good.’
…and it helped her smile appear more genuine.
While she spoke, Elegy nodded at each of the points Heriah had made. Even afterwards, he appeared to continue considering her words, as he looked up at the overhead and rubbed the back of his neck for a few seconds. Turning his gaze on Heriah again, Elegy said, “I’m sure arrangements can be made to see patients in your quarters. My only caution would be about setting sufficient boundaries to maintain your own refuge from duty in your own personal space. That’ll be important for your own wellbeing. On a starbase of Bravo’s size, the public waiting room isn’t our only option. I often sneak my patients in through side entrances or have them beam in direction from transporter arches…”
“Those are good points,” she said. “I admit to having not thought of all that.”
After taking a sip of his coffee, Elegy took a deep breath, and he pivoted the conversation. Approaching a formal timbre, Elegy said, “In the interest of transparency, I should let you know that Doctor Mol from the Trill military has written to me about your progress with your joining. Now, I’ve been assigned to provide your clinical supervision, I know some counselors prefer to receive counseling from their supervisors, and some counselors prefer a separation there. Do you have a preference? I suppose I’m asking: what questions do you have for me before we embark on our new relationship?”
‘Can you just sign this thing so we can be done with this?’
Heriah sat there a few shorts seconds in thought. Two knuckles in her right hand popped under a tightening fist. Her left hand still comfortably resting atop the right. The news of Rikata messaging Elegy came as no surprise.
‘No. Don’t you say it.’
“I would actually prefer,” and this was Heriah speaking. She was beginning to flex the fingers of her right hand in an attempt to relax more. “…prefer to receive counseling from my supervisor. You, of course, need to know the well-being of those under your command.”
She relaxed more and reached for her tea. Taking another sip of it, “I do understand your concerns regarding seeing patients within private quarters. Rest assured that, if allowed to do that, I will come forward with any issues that arise. I am aware of the risks and, I may not look it but, I can take care of myself. It actually gladdens me to know that Rikata Mol…”
“…contacted you regarding me.” She smiled at him. “It only shows that he cares. He was both my doctor and counselor while I attended the Academy. He showed me great care and much attention and is only finding it hard to let go. That, and he wants you to know what he knows, to ensure that I remain healthy. I assure you,” she finally relaxed her right hand and patted her tummy with it, “my joining with Rex has gone smoothly and we continue to thrive.”
“As for questions for you,” she continued, “I really cannot think of any. Only that I ask you to work with me as both a counselor, in your case, a psychiatrist, and as a supervisor as I open up to you and my co-workers and that you nursemaid me as I learn what it means to serve Starfleet outside and away from the Academy. If you have questions for me…I am an open book.”
‘…with many redactions that is.’
Nodding slowly, Elegy replied, “Thank you, Heriah. It’s been a pleasure to meet with you. I’ll arrange our meeting cadence in the next couple of days. If there’s nothing else, I can let you be on your way.”
“Thank you, sir. I mean Elegy,” she corrected as she stood. Retrieving her PADD, “Oh can you sign this, please?” She held it out to him. Displayed was her in-processing checklist. There were many signatures on it already, but more still were needed before completion. Among the incompletes was her check-in with Counseling and Psychiatry. “Just to let the command staff know that I checked in here.”
Turning his gaze on the PADD, Elegy clasped it between both of his hands. “My enjoyment will be seeing your enjoyment,” Elegy remarked, a play on Heriah’s words that had stuck in his head. He signed his acknowledgement and handed the PADD back to her. As Heriah headed out of the office, Elegy said, “Go forth and make yourself indispensable, Heriah.”