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I Don’t Need Help

Posted on 18 Jan 2020 @ 12:35am by Lieutenant Commander Tivan & Commander Jayla Kij

Mission: Epilogue
Location: Counseling Offices
Timeline: December 29, 2389

Reporting back to the Black Hawk meant psych evals were due again. Jayla hated them, but knew there was no getting out of it. And being that she didn’t like it when people were late for physicals or kept postponing their appointments, she opted to just show up on time and not fuss.

And so she reported to the counseling office and checked in via the computer, then took a seat to wait for the counselor to be ready for her.

"Hello, Jayla."

Typically Tivan would be more formal upon first meeting, but typically she did not meet with joined Trills. Gestalt consciousnesses required a special touch, she'd learned in her career. "If you'd come with me."

Jayla gave the Vulcan woman a grin and stood to follow her. She didn't really understand why, but she liked her already.

The room Tivan indicated was small but plush with unconventional furnishings. A lone chair sat against the wall, but otherwise the room was adorned with lounge pads, bean bag chairs, and other such pillowy accouterments. And then there was the incense.

"I guessed at your favorite scent," Tivan said.

"I have many," admitted Jayla after inhaling deeply. "Cinnamon is definitely one of them. Your office is... different than I would have expected."

Tivan smiled demurely. "Indeed? Tell me what you would have expected."

Ah, a smile. That explained it far better than words could have. “Certainly not a smiling Vulcan,” Jayla replied. “I don’t know. More utilitarian furnishings? Vulcans aren’t known for their differing senses of style. But I like it,” she added, nodding approvingly. “It’s actually quite logical, given that most humanoids enjoy variation.”

"Repression is unhealthy," Tivan agreed. "Therefore, it is illogical to repress emotion. Far better, I have found, to transcend passion through embracing it as a tidal eddy in the sea." She paused to admire her own decor. "Art is, perhaps, the most universal means to do so. More than even mathematics, though I concede it to be a close second."

Walking to a lounge pad, she folded into it like a rag doll. "Please, make yourself at home. Unburden yourself however you may. This is a safe place, a refuge from everything beyond the four walls." Pausing for effect, Tivan cast a canny eye on Jayla. "And from some things within."

Jayla glanced at all the chairs and chose a giant poof that looked exceptionally comfortable. "Ooo," she sighed as she sank into it. "Oh, this is nice. I need one of these."

"I have more," Tivan said. "If you would like, I could have Operations send one to your quarters."

"That would be much appreciated," Jayla agreed enthusiastically.

After a moment, Tivan closed her eyes, folded her legs, and descended into a trance. "Have any of your hosts pursued a life of meditation, Kij?" The question was clearly directed toward the symbiont.

"Aldur," Kij answered at once. "He meditated about anything and everything. And, oddly enough, the current host used it shortly after joining."

Still in her trance, Tivan hummed in acknowledgement. "A sensation not unlike possession by the Dolmoqour, I would imagine."

And now it was Jayla who replied. "That's what it felt like at first," she said. "If I'd just listened to the doctors, I would have figured things out much quicker. But, I had to be stubborn."

Sensitive as she was to the psionic undertones of the room, Tivan smirked at the shift in personas. Apparently she had touched a nerve, and that would have to go into her file. Rising up from theta through beta and back to alpha bandwidth of her brain, Tivan poised herself as if to listen to a grand tale. "Stubborn? In what way? What advice did you disregard?"

Much of it was already in her personal file, but any mental health expert knew the greater truth often presented itself in the individual's perspective.

Jayla laughed at her foolish past self. "All of it," she replied. "From taking charge of my thoughts to exploring and accepting the memories of past hosts. You name it, I ignored it. I guess that's why teenagers aren't allowed to be joined."

"That sounds rather abstract," Tivan pointed out. "Hindsight often presents solutions that would not have been apparent or even rational at the outset. Had you heeded every form of abstract advice given you, there is no telling where you would have ended up." She turned her head to give a sidelong stare. "Do you truly believe that you could have responded more quickly, or is it that you identify your struggle against the Dolomoqour with your struggle for identity?"

"I beat the Dolmoquor," Jayla answered at once. "They're the ones who had to struggle against me. Not the other way around. But, no. I was too stubborn. I never would have responded more quickly. And maybe I wouldn't be the same person I am today if I had. And I quite like who I am today."

Tivan gave a faint smile. "Fascinating. But just who was it that beat the Dolmoqour? Jayla or Kij?"

"Both of us, together," answered Jayla. "We threw everything at it. It couldn't win against us."

"Is that so?" Tivan pinched her chin in thought for a moment, then tapped her jawline. "Then why do you have such regret? In telling your story, I hear as much grief as from those who were at the Dolmoqour's mercy. Why is that, do you think?"

That brought Jayla up short. Did she feel regret? She thought about it and realized that she did. Interesting. But, why? "I... don't know," she said slowly. "Maybe... maybe I wanted to save them? You know, as a doctor, I took an oath to do no harm. And I just let them be killed." She tried to feel something about that, but simply couldn't. "Maybe not. I don't know."

"You feel like you didn't do enough?" Tivan asked rhetorically. "That coincides with your statement that heeding advice sooner would have yielded a better outcome. But I have another proposition for you to consider." Leaning forward, Tivan stared directly into Jayla's eyes as if searching for the symbiont beyond. "You cannot know everything, and that just might be a terrifying prospect for a being with hundreds of years and multiple life cycles of life experience from which to draw wisdom and knowledge."

As she said it, Tivan watched as carefully for physical, nonverbal cues as she did an audible response.

Jayla's mouth quirked to one side in thought. "Hm," she said, thoughtfully. "That's a thought. I'll have to consider it."

"Do." Settling back into her lounge pad, Tivan folded her arms and legs together. "Now, tell me what you do for leisure."

"Sports," answered Jayla at once. "I love tennis. And Doctor Who holonovels. Sometimes at the same time. Oh, and I paint. I had an exhibition awhile back. It was hard for me to let people see my paintings at first. Not during the exhibition. Before. It made me feel exposed. Naked. I suppose that's the way it is for all artists at first. Anyway, the exhibition made me feel confident and even loved. It was oddly humbling to have such positive comments about my work."

Tivan gave a knowing nod. "I'm ready to render an opinion regarding your mental health and well-being. Would you like to know what it is?"

"Of course I would," grinned Jayla. "Don't we all wonder what the counselor thinks of us?"

"Not all of us," Tivan grinned back. She didn't turn solemn, but her grin faded into a knowing smile. "To put it simply, my opinion is that you are starved for connection. You have experience--several lifetimes of it, even. You have relationships, but I wonder if any of them are meaningful. Your current love interest, I expect, is unequal to you in most ways."

The lowering of her voice took on a faint, gentle rasp. "You view the world and those in it through the lens of condescension, some of it rightfully earned while some of it not. Be that as it may, when it comes down to it, when you are not busy with duty, activities, or sexual dalliances, in your heart of hearts you feel utterly alone with your thoughts and memories. Sometimes no more so than in the arms of the one you've condescended to love."

Tivan's eyes probed with confidence, but also a kind understanding. "Without a true connection that equals the stature of your inner life, your true self goes ignored and neglected, save for the scarce scraps of connection you manage to collect from those not your equal in life. Do I exaggerate things, or am I close to the mark?"

After a few moments during which Jayla's face remained inscrutable, she finally replied, "I think you fancy yourself Sherlock Holmes. Nevertheless, I will take your assessment to heart and search within. After all, perhaps you are correct. And, perhaps I am perfectly fine with how I am and do not wish to change anything. Or, perhaps you are completely incorrect and I don't care about equality in my connections. In any case, I look forward to discovering the truth."

"Perhaps, in time, you will learn that an unequal connection is no real connection at all," Tivan posed. With her point made, she offered a smile. "Would you like a refreshment? Perhaps something to drink?"

"No thank you," Jayla replied. "Perhaps you are correct. Perhaps I will. Or perhaps I do not care. Perhaps I can be fulfilled without a connection. Or perhaps there is no such thing as an unequal connection." She grinned. "My, that's an existential thought, isn't it?"

"You can stop deflecting," Tivan said casually on her way to the replicator. "I can see the truth has hit its mark, so I won't belabor it." She ordered a Vulcan mocha and returned to her pad, though she had to seat herself carefully. "What I would like to discuss is what new vistas you can find to pull yourself out of this existential funk you've so adequately described. Cross-training for new departments? New courses of study? Personal leave to go travel and explore? New contacts, relationships, and identities? When it comes to finding oneself, I find there are not many if any avenues that should be excluded from consideration."

“Well, that’s no fun,” replied Jayla. “I rather enjoy existent- oh! I just had a thought! What if there’s no such thing as an equal connection? After all, can two people ever be truly equal? Take Alex, for example. He is certainly my emotional equal- no. No, he’s definitely my emotional better. I could never hope to be as understanding and patient as he is. You see? Unequal! And Camila is better at self-defense. The Captain is a better leader for sure, and probably smarter than me, to boot. I think we’re onto- oh. Right. Sorry. I got a little side tracked.” She took a deep breath, but found she had completely forgotten when the discussion was about. “Um... what was the question?” she asked again.

Tivan shook her head and grinned like a schoolteacher with a rowdy child. "I have participated in 205 clinical studies overseeing tens of thousands of patients, to say nothing of the hundreds and hundreds of session hours I've logged for certification and, let's be honest, just for the fun of it. I invite you to consider how feeble I find your attempts at misdirection right now." As she spoke, her face had tilted down until her pronounced brow had sunk low into her eyeline. "I haven't known you long, Jayla, but I know you well. As rare of a specimen as you are, I have encountered your ilk before. Believe me when I say no part of my diagnosis is intended as criticism of yourself, your lover... Alex, you said? Or a criticism of any of your choices." Her smiled beamed big and bright. "It is a clarion call to a life greater than the one you've settled for, and there can be no greater confirmation of that than your own internal conflict. You may externally direct that conflict onto me if it helps in the beginning, but I will always redirect it back to your inner longings in the end."

“I’m not deflecting,” defended Jayla. “Well, not on purpose anyway. It’s hard to not get distracted with all these memories and personalities rolling around your mind. That was Aldur, I’m pretty sure. He was mainly an architect, but also a philosopher. He loved supposing and theorizing. Drove his friends absolutely crazy. In any case,” she added, “I said I would think about it and I will. Assuming I don’t get sidetracked, anyway.”

"I said I wouldn't belabor the point," Tivan said with a delighted chuckle. "You're already thinking about it, which is where my work ends." Taking a deep whiff of her Vulcan mocha, Tivan sipped long and slow. "This is very good. Are you sure I can't get you a cup?"

Jayla was about to refuse again, when she caught a whiff of the liquid. "Mmm, that smells heavenly," she said. "Maybe I will have some."

It was but a moment before Tivan took another Vulcan mocha from the replicator and offered it to Jayla. "It's a bit harsh to most palates," she warned.

Jayla grinned and carefully dipped the drink in case it was too hot. “Ooo!” She said in surprise. “It’s... strong.” Indeed it was strong. And bitter. She drank her coffee very strong and with no cream or sugar and this was even stronger and more bitter. She sipped it again. “I predict I will love it by the bottom of the cup.”

"Ever the optimist?" Though it was phrased as a question, Tivan clearly meant it rhetorically. "If you acquire a taste for it, perhaps we can make a standing coffee date."

“I think I’d like that,” agreed Jayla. After all, a girl like her couldn’t have too many friends. “And even if not, I can always stick to my standard bold roast.”

Tivan regarded her skeptically for just a moment. So many safety nets for a multigenerational joined Trill. How much confidence was sincere and how much was a facade? "I'll look forward to it," she said warmly. "At any rate, I'd say that's a good place to stop for now. Perhaps at our next meeting you can share a new risk or experience."

“If I feel like taking one,” agreed Jayla. “Comfort zones have their advantages after all.”

"Indeed they do." Tivan smiled and showed Jayla out. "I'll be sure to have Operations send over that lounge pad. Live long and prosper."

“And you as well,” Jayla replied with a grin, and she headed down the corridor with her Vulcan mocha.


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