Location: USS Black Hawk || Counselor's Office
Timeline: March 1, 2388 || 0930 hours
That Fresh from Engineering, Harvey continued his inspection tour, heading to the Counselor's Office. Though the Counselor came on board a month ago, shortly before being added to the Away Team to investigate Razmena, Harvey had yet to take the time to get to know the Counselor.
He knew she'd attempted to set up a meeting with him on a few occasions, but Harvey had put it off. After his rehabilitation from his accident months ago, he did not take kindly to Counselors or Psychologists. Nevertheless, she was part of his Senior Staff. Having a healthy working relationship with those he immediately worked with would be critical moving forward, especially knowing they'd be navigating unknown space for the next few weeks.
Captain Geisler stopped at the door and tapped the door chime, hoping the good doctor was in.
"Come in," Avery called out. She didn't have an appointment at this hour and was curious about who wanted to speak with her. Walk-ins weren't entirely unusual, but they were still relatively rare.
Harvey entered the room, still holding the PADD Lieutenant Dicon gave him at his side. The office felt friendly, likely an effort to help whoever visited the Counselor to feel comfortable. "Good morning, Doctor." He stepped inside, still looking around the room.
He did not feel comfortable. Harvey looked around the room some more, purposely diverting his attention for as long as he could afford it. Mentally sighing while his mind debating both the reasons for staying and going. Ultimately, he turned back to the doctor and said, "I see you've settled in quite nicely."
It didn't take a counselor to see the man was uncomfortable. People didn't normally take an interest in the bulkheads on board, no matter how stylishly they'd been decorated to hide what they were. Still, she was patient. She'd yet to find someone who was entirely comfortable with psych evals, let alone the ship's captain, who as a group had to be emotionally invested in appearing emotionally and mentally fit to lead, no matter what the circumstances. Harvey had already been through some pretty trying circumstances. "I have," she offered simply.
"Good." Harvey let his eyes wander again, tapping the PADD on his leg as he did. A thousand thoughts ran rampant in his head, and he fought to silence each one. This was getting more awkward by the second, and he didn't want the doctor to be the one to break the silence. "Forgive me, Doctor. I... I just..."
He sighed. "It's not your fault. My last visit to a counselor did not end well. Forced me out of uniform in fact. But I don't want that to stop us from working together. Your expertise is going to be critical in the days to come."
Avery didn't want to put herself in the position of defending another counselor or becoming a psychological surrogate for one, but she wanted to let him know he didn't have to hide his feelings about anything from her. "I know it'll take time for us to get to know each other, but I'm hopeful you'll come to see you don't have to censor yourself around me, even if it's about how you feel concerning your past interactions with counselors."
"I promise to do my best," he confessed, still tapping the PADD lightly against his leg. "I read your report," Harvey said, changing topics, "yet I'll be the first to admit the written word often lacks emotion. We're about to go deep into unknown territory, looking for where some of our friends have come from. What's your impression of what we've encountered thus far?"
"I don't think any of us are naïve, myself included, but I think it's one thing to know there are cruel, self-centered, sadistic people in the universe who would subjugate thousands of people for their own pleasure and personal gain, but it's another to come face-to-face with that directly. It's something I've encountered often as I worked with survivors of violent crimes as I collaborated with members of law enforcement, but it wasn't something I expected you to encounter with the regularity that you seem to have found it here."
Harvey nodded in agreement with Avery. "I'm afraid it's just the tip of the iceberg." Sighing, he added, "You'd think we'd be better off with some good old fashioned piracy. Nothing's ever as simple as it seems anymore."
"You would know that better than most, I would think," Avery replied quietly. She understood his reasons for steering the conversation to work matters, but recalling how he opened the conversation, she sensed he had some personal things to work through.
The Captain stood there for a moment, knowing the current conversation had indeed come to a close. "A month ago," he began at last, almost forcing himself to open up, "when you were on Razmena. I saw... things..."
Avery nodded, trying to encourage him to say more without fear or embarrassment. "What things?"
Harvey remained still for a beat, then opted to take a seat near the doctor. He wasn't sure how familiar Doctor Stuart was with his recent medical history, so felt a brief summary was in order. "We got a close look at that nebula a month ago, almost too close. Apparently, my chemical makeup made for a perfect testbed for some radiation that played some nasty tricks with my mind."
He sighed. "The first one started before and after I paid a visit to the Black Hawk's memorial. The corridor appeared to be damaged, severely, and there was someone trapped under rubble. I... I couldn't move to help her.
"The second time, I was on the bridge. One second, everyone was there, and then they were gone." Harvey snapped his fingers loudly enough to surprise himself. "Both times, both experiences seemed so real. I could smell smoke and feel the heat from the fire in the corridor. On the bridge, I couldn't hear whispers or even the brushing of cloth against cloth. Not even the tapping on consoles."
Harvey looked at the Counselor blankly. "I have no idea what to make of any of it and they still baffle me."
"Your descriptions of these experiences remind me of combat survivors in the midst of flashbacks," Avery offered simply. "Whatever's going on, I don't think you're crazy, sir. Have you ever experienced flashbacks before?"
"Quite often," he replied without thinking. It was the trouble with him as a highly analytical person. Like his constantly revisiting memories of Alison, Harvey would often replay events in his head to see if he should have performed differently. "But none have ever been so real."
"It's not uncommon for people to replay events in their minds, especially if they're second-guessing things, but a flashback is completely involuntary, brought on by sensory or psychological triggers that may or may not be known to the person. Flashbacks typically do seem very real, and are usually an indication of unresolved trauma," Avery explained.
Unresolved trauma. After all of these years, it seemed Harvey still had no shortage of that. He simply didn't want it gone, as pain was one of the many experiences that summarized and developed a person, but he did want to understand and resolve it. "Then it seems I'm in more need of your services than I thought."
"I'm here to listen to whatever you want to tell me, whenever you're ready," Avery offered simply.
Harvey nodded. There would be a time for that, but with all of the changes coming to the ship in such a short time, it would have to wait. "Thank you, Doctor," he said, rising to his feet.
"Of course, Captain," Avery answered, also rising to her feet. All things considered, the meeting had gone as well as she could've hoped.
With a nod, Harvey excused himself from the room and resumed his daily tour.
Captain Harvey Geisler, CO
Lieutenant Avery Stuart, Counselor