Summary: Captain Geisler, having been temporarily relieved of command due to expired certifications, arrives in sickbay to undergo physical examination with Doctor Jennin Rhula. It quickly turns into something far more than what he bargained for.
Timeline: Mission Day 5 at 1100
Having finished with his phaser recertification, there was only one place left to go. Harvey never dreaded sickbay, especially since he had spent many years of his life practicing medicine and researching different diseases, but it was never the same entering the medical complex as a patient. With his command temporarily suspended pending these reviews, Harvey's motivation was to quickly get these physicals behind him.
Whether or not Doctor Rhula agreed with that assessment remained to be seen.
He spotted the medical technician manning the front desk as he entered and gave her a nod. "Is Doctor Rhula available?" he asked her.
"There is no one here by that name," bellowed a voice from around the corner. A split second later, a Bajoran with thick-rimmed glasses came into view.
"Oh. It's you," he said, seeing the only person in the room other than the yeoman staffing the desk. "Haven't figured out Bajoran names still, I see."
The Captain closed his eyes and berated himself. How could he keep forgetting this. He'd spent enough times around Bajorans to remember their naming structure. His problem was that he kept forgetting that Doctor Rhula – Doctor Jennin was Bajoran.
Harvey opened his eyes and replied, "My apologies, Doctor Jennin. I meant no disrespect."
"And yet," he stated dryly, giving a very fake smile. "What do you need?"
It wouldn't take a Betazoid for Harvey to realize he'd crossed a terrible line that he should've never crossed. "Command says I'm overdue for my annual physical. Until I'm cleared, I've been temporarily relieved of duty."
"How unfortunate. So it's just Harvey now instead of Captain Harvey?"
Harvey smirked, sensing that the good doctor wasn't going to let this go anytime soon. "Something like that."
Rhula hrmphed. He respected the Captain's medical background, but found it strange that someone as intelligent and with as much experience as Geisler would have such a difficult time remembering the basic naming practice of an entire species. "The yeoman can schedule an appointment for you. I'm sure someone has an open spot."
So that's how it was. Harvey made one mistake, albeit a fairly significant one, and Doctor Jennin was just going to let the Captain suffer for a while. In a way, Harvey could appreciate the irony. A few years ago, back when Harvey was the Chief Medical Officer on Starbase 211, he'd done something similar with Commodore Honeydew. It was still one of Harvey's proudest moments.
"If that's what it takes," Harvey said, brandishing a smile now. He looked over to the yeoman manning the desk. "I need to schedule an appointment for a physical. Full work up. Earliest opportunity."
Looking down at the terminal in front of him, Yeoman Roberts saw an opening. "There's something available right now, actually Captain," Roberts said. He looked at the name of the physician and chuckled. "With Doctor Jennin."
"We'll talk about this later," the cantankerous Bajoran grumbled at Roberts.
He looked at Geisler. "Follow me," he said before heading to exam room two.
The door to the exam room was already open, seeing as it was unoccupied. "Sit," Rhula directed as he reached for a PADD.
Harvey followed the Bajoran Doctor to the exam room and sat on the bed. When the yeoman announced the opening, Harvey found himself relieved. He'd already started considering checking out one of the runabouts for a quick jaunt to Starbase Unity, which was only two days away. There he'd at least be able to get a quick workup, and then back to the Black Hawk in no time.
But this, this would be better. Or so Harvey hoped.
"Any changes to your health since your last physical?" Rhula asked, ready to take notes.
"Only that my body has gained another year or two," Harvey quipped. "I think it's doing fairly well now that I'm in my forties."
"How's your sleep?"
Harvey didn't hesitate on this one. "Rough. I'm still lucky to get about four hours a night between the feedings and the late night diaper surprises. They say it'll all even out eventually. I could use for that eventually to come soon though."
"'People puppies' will do that," Rhula stated in response.
He continued down his mental checklist. "Stress, work or personal?"
Puppies? Stress? Harvey wondered. Just what exactly was the Bajoran doctor trying to do? Get a rise out of the Captain? "I'm a Captain, Doctor. Stress is part of my every minute in life."
"And how do you manage stress? Especially when you are under more than usual."
Harvey blinked, unsure of how to answer the question. "Usually, I try to get some holodeck time in, but that's been difficult lately. Usually, I just try and relax while holding one of the twins. But it's all been non-stop lately."
"Patient not managing stress," Rhula said quietly as he took notes. "You are a trained physician so I'm sure that I don't need to explain the effects of stress on one's health. Is that accurate?"
"Not managing stress?" Harvey spat, surprised by the remark. "What would you have me do, Doctor Jennin? I'm already working six days a week, but two of those days I limit myself to just two shifts and not any additional watches."
The Bajoran looked up from his PADD, his eyes locking on Geisler's. "So I do need to explain the effects of stress?" He took his glasses off and took a deep breath. "Captain, I can respect the demands of your job, but you have to take care of yourself. I will go so far as to make you relaxing and destressing an order if I have to. I don't think either of us want that to happen," he said, returning his glasses to their proper place. "The choice is yours at this point."
Harvey sighed. Not only was he frustrated with the doctor, but Harvey wasn't sure how to communicate that stress with the job was not something that just evaporated. "Orders to destress aren't necessary," he surrendered. "I will try and find ways to relax in the off-hours."
"See how easy that was? Lay back," he said, trading his PADD for a tricorder. "Just some routine scans. You know the drill."
Harvey fought the urge to roll his eyes at the doctor's bedside manner, even though Harvey knew he was one to talk. His own bedside manner throughout the years left much to be desired. Was what he now experienced the universe's way of payback? Feigning a sigh, he laid down on the biobed and prepared to be scanned.
Using a small handheld sensor unit, Rhula ran a series of scans. "Cardiovascular system looks good. Nervous system, fine. Do you ever have any stomach trouble?"
"Only when I drink replicated coffee," Harvey responded. "I think it's coming out too acidic. The naturally brewed stuff is fine, and I've been trying to switch to tea if I can't find any non-replicated coffee."
"Earth coffee is swill," the physician stated, shaking his head. "Don't bother with it. If you really want coffee, I can recommend some better options. There are several planets who produce some very smooth and low acid beans. There's an Efrosian blend that is very nice." He looked up from his tricorder. "Are you okay with drinking something that is purple?"
Harvey was a bit partial to his Wilkins, and he didn't think he could ever give it up. However, he did have a growing need to find something else to drink throughout the day, and he never said no to trying a cup of something new. "Purple?" he asked. "It depends on if it has any lasting effects on humans."
"Nothing permanent," he replied. "If you have a cup in the morning, your urine should return to it's typical hue by dinnertime. It is a shock when you look down and see that aquamarine stream the first time." He paused for a moment, his brow furrowed briefly. "At least I suspect it will be aquamarine. Human biochemistry is fairly similar to Bajoran, so at least pretty close to aquamarine."
The Captain blinked. "Aqua... marine?" He'd been in enough situations where the food and drink of other cultures and species had changed his body chemistry, including a Bolian dessert that had caused his arm to swell up to twice its size. "Well... I suppose it could be worse."
"And if you were Deltan, it would be worse. Tends to trigger a type of skin necrosis for them. Fast moving." Rhula clicked his tongue. "But you're Human, so just some aquamarine urine. Oh, and go easy on the stuff. It's nearly double the caffeine as the Earth coffee you're used to."
He looked up at the wall chrono. After spending the last several hours with patients, the bespectacled Bajoran just wanted to retreat to his research. To withdraw from interaction with living beings and just focus on studying the constituent biological components of people was his nature. Waiting in his lab was the corpse of an Andorian, still loaded with the parasites who had caused the host's death. This particular parasite was one he hadn't been able to study personally yet, but with the Andorian host having been placed in stasis immediately after expiring, he now had the chance to see it first hand. He was going to replicate some tissue samples for the parasites to feed on, allowing him to witness the creature's behavior and catalog its process.
But that was on hold because Captain Harvey needed a physical. And he was going to make sure it was thorough.
"I'm ordering a full set of labs," he stated, picking up his PADD again and making some notes in Geisler's chart. He scrolled through the medical records. "And it looks like you need several monitored tests as well. We can take care of those right now. Since you're already here."
"Full set of labs!?" Harvey nearly shouted. Just as he was warming up to the idea of an unusual drink, Doctor Jennin's statement had caught him off guard. Harvey had been a Chief Medical Officer years prior to starting his command journey, and he knew that labs meant only two things. Either there was something wrong with him... or Doctor Jennin was using a vengeful tactic in hopes to settle a score.
The Captain then winced, realizing that on more than one occasion, the Captain had misused the Doctor's name by ignoring Bajoran naming conventions. And not just within days of each other, but months. There was no excuse for that in the slightest. But even this seemed unreasonable, especially since many laboratory tests could take days or weeks when ran properly.
"Do you experience any sexual dysfunction?"
Harvey was taken aback by the question. First the mention of labs and tests, and now this. "What does my sex life have to do with all this?"
"Sexual dysfunction is nothing to be ashamed of. You are at an age when it often starts becoming more of a problem. The causes can range from age, cardiovascular issues, nervous system problems, tiredness. Stress." He put particular emphasis on the last one. "It can also be psychological. I can refer you to a counselor if we determine your failure to perform is not tied to a physiological problem. Do you have problem becoming physically aroused? Are you unable to remain aroused for the duration of an encounter? Some of both?"
The Captain blinked as he fought to contain a sigh and an expression of derision. "All systems are go, Doctor. Whenever my wife and I have an encounter, the only problem we have is a child waking up and interrupting us."
"I see," Jennin said while making a note. Is embarrassed by his ED. Check for low t.
"Is there anything that you think I should know about your health?"
Harvey found himself wondering what the Doctor was writing in his notes, and he found himself thankful that neither of them were Betazoid. "I've noticed a gray hair here and there. Other than that, I take regular walks around the ship for the weekly department inspections. I think everything else is fine."
"Walks... Charming," he said with an eyeroll. "I can't do anything about the gray hair, but I'm sure you could replicate an acceptable dye. Vanity and all that."
Harvey shook his head. He hadn't planned on dyeing his hair, though he was still waiting for Joey to make a remark or two about that. So far, she hadn't said anything. "What a crime," he muttered.
"For both of our sakes, please tell me you don't have any family history of prostate cancer."
"For both of our sakes, that answer is most certainly no," Harvey replied with all confidence.
"Follow me," Rhula said, adjusting his glasses.
Harvey slid off the bed and adjusted his top jacket before following the doctor out of the room. "Where are we headed?" he asked, feeling like a lamb being lead to the slaughter.
"Draws for labs. Then to the PT room for some tests."
Harvey hadn't forgotten about the labs, but he was a bit surprised for the PT tests. He supposed Doctor Jennin was nothing but thorough. "Leaving no stone unturned, are we, Doctor Jennin?"
"Initial scans show no calcifications," the Bajoran stated flatly. "I can run additional scans if you think I've missed something. A second opinion is also an option."
Harvey would not admit how long he considered getting that second opinion. However, Doctor Jennin was the Chief Medical Officer and could easily instruct his staff to take just as long, if not longer, than he was taking now. Getting an off-site opinion would cost him a week in transit time alone. "I think you're already performing a thorough job, Doctor," he simply said.
"That's right," Rhula muttered.
The door to the pathology lab's sample collection room opened, sensing the approach of the Chief Medical Officer. He pointed at the lone chair, while he went to a cabinet to retrieve supplies.
Harvey frowned at the sterile seat. His eyes wandered around the room as he approached it, taking note of the microscopes, cellular analyzers and various displays around. One display in particular portrayed a diagram of a dissected Trill symbiont, and another a detailed markup of a Dolmoqour parasite. Others featured various statistics and reports, but nothing Harvey could easily discern from where he now sat.
On the small tray next to the chair where the captain now sat, Rhula set down a dozen small sample collection vials. "I assume you prefer to not do this the Klingon way," he said, inserting the first vial into an empty hypospray.
"The old fashioned way is quite sufficient," Harvey stated, rolling up his sleeve. "Besides, you don't strike me as the type that keeps D'k tahgs or mek'leths lying about."
"I won't disabuse you of that thought," he replied, pressing the hypo to Geisler's arm. It filled quickly and Rhula swapped the vial for an empty one. "Have you selected all of your senior staff personally?"
Harvey had to think about that. Aside from dealing with some major turnover in a couple key roles, Harvey hadn't had to worry about his senior staff all that often. "I haven't selected all of them," he admitted. "Most, like yourself, are promotions from within. Commander Djinx was a transfer from a decommissioned vessel, and I think McCullen was the first I'd selected from outside in a while. I tell you what, though, Chief Engineers are in as short supply as qualified medical professionals."
"So the blame for the large number of Trill lies with Headquarters?," he asked slowly. "That makes me cautiously optimistic about your personnel selection abilities."
He switched to another collection vial.
"Thanks..." Harvey wasn't sure if he'd just been complimented or slighted. Perhaps it was best to think positive, especially in this situation. "Tell me something, Doctor. Why pathology?"
Rhula stopped in the middle of changing vials. "The Occupation," he replied, his voice quiet and devoid of his usual sass and snark. "After my parents disappeared when I was four, I was taken in by twin brothers, a structural biologist and a plant geneticist. They were pressed into service as lab and research assistants to a Cardassian scientist. They hated it, helping the occupying power. But they also recognized that their work kept them from being killed. And it meant they could care for me."
"In order to help ease some of their guilt, they taught themselves some practical medical skills and helped treat some of the other local Bajorans. I often accompanied them on their visits to local homes. The Cardassians even started bringing them in to tend to people in the labor camps. Eventually, they started working for the Resistance, not in a formal capacity really, but more of a 'the less said, the better' way."
"Well, over time, I started taking on more and more of a role. When I was 14, I was apprenticed to an elderly woman who had been a physician in a village in the next province since before the Occupation. She was losing her sight and was eager to pass along her knowledge. Most of her patients were going to die. We cared for them as best as we could, but their passing was a forgone conclusion."
"Being surrounded by that kind of suffering," he continued, slipping the new vial into the hypo, "it has an impact. When the Occupation ended, I was twenty. I'd spent most of my life helping to care for hurt people. I decided to shift my focus to studying death in an effort to prevent it."
He pressed the hypo to Geisler's arm again. "That's how I ended up in pathology. I studied microbiology before getting into a proper medical training program. Fell in love with parasitology then."
Harvey twitched under the new hypospray. The devices were quite painless, and had been for as long as he knew them. But having so much blood drawn from his body so quickly, and all from the same spot began to produce slight bits of phantom pain.
Still, he did his best to listen to the Doctor's story, especially since Harvey did find it interesting. Harvey had to admit that he couldn't relate at all, especially since his upbringing was nowhere near as tragic as Jennin's. "I'm sorry you had to go through all of that," he replied at last. "My own career got started because my parents wanted to keep me out of trouble. Having two older siblings that fell into a life of crime and drug abuse doesn't compare at all to what you had to go through. Both of my parents were physicians, and growing up around them, I kind of developed an interest in what they were doing. It led me into medicinal research. It was the war that turned me into more of a real physician and also this damned red uniform."
Harvey sighed. "One word of advice, Rhula. Don't let them promote you higher than you are now."
"I'll keep that in mind," he replied sardonically, "for the next time you try to promote me."
Another full vial was replaced with a fresh one.
"You regret your career choices," the Bajoran stated more than asked.
"Regret is too strong a word," Harvey admitted. "As much as I wished it all would have gone differently, if I had full control, I obviously wouldn't be wearing a red uniform." And Alison wouldn't be dead either. Harvey fought the urge to wince. It was the first time in several months that he'd thought about his first wife. Had she never been killed during the war, he never would have allowed Starfleet to drag him out of his research lab.
"I suppose it's just too much of a reminder that as much as we like to control our own lives, sometimes circumstances have a mind of their own and you just have to roll with the punches the best you can."
Rhula snorted. "Something we can agree on."
He swapped vials again.
The room was silent for several minutes.
"I joined Starfleet to get away from Bajor," he said quietly.
"By the time the Occupation ended, I had no ties. Family. Friends. Scientific peers. All gone. I wanted to put as much distance between myself and my past as I could. But I also felt a responsibility to help rebuild. So I dug in and did that. I formalized my medical training. Opened a practice in my village, where I spent about half of my time. The remainder, I was working in the regional hospital that the Federation had built, stocked, and operated. Worked with both civilian and Starfleet staff there."
The final collection tube was slid into the hypo.
"Once Bajor joined the Federation, I realized that I was done. I needed to leave the only planet I'd ever known. I needed distance. So I joined Starfleet. When I left for officer training on Trill, it was the first time I'd ever been off of Bajor."
Harvey blinked at the mention of Trill. In all his prior meetings with the Bajoran doctor, he never really had much fondness for the spotted race. "I take it your time on Trill was less than pleasant."
"No, actually." Jennin replied with a chuckle. "It was enlightening. Truly inspiring art. Ancient architecture to rival some of the best on Bajor. And the landscapes....... The Cardassians destroyed so much of Bajor's natural beauty. Forests removed, grasslands turned to strip mines, hillsides ruined. Trill didn't go through that. One forest was such an incredible shade of green that I don't think there is a word in Bajoran to describe it."
"The Trill people were very welcoming, friendly. And bright. You could be walking down the street and overhear a conversation about some random scientific theory. Even casual conversation was intellectually stimulating. After nearly a year, it was hard to leave."
The Captain was surprised by the answer, supposing there must have been an isolated incident that had turned the man off to Doctor Kij as he had always seemed indifferent toward her. "Bajor has come a long way in either restoring what was lost, or creating new art or landscapes. But I know what you mean about missing places of enlightenment. Such is our journey in life. Do you do anything to keep it alive?"
"Done," Rhula announced, removing the final vial. He placed it in a tray with the rest before picking up a collection cup with a lid. "The head is there," he said, offering the cup to Geisler.
Harvey looked once at the cup and then back up to the doctor. "You can't get enough from the gallon of blood you just drew, Doctor?"
"Are you ordering me to be less thorough in my exam? You should know that won't work since I have final say on what is medically necessary on this ship."
"I know I can't order you," Harvey responded. "It was just a bit of friendly sarcasm, Doctor." Trying to temper his growing disdain, Harvey collected the cup from Doctor Jennin and withdrew to the nearby head. He returned a minute later, his hands free. "I left it on the counter in there," he informed the doctor. "Unless you wanted me to bring it back to you."
"That will suffice," he replied.
Rhula opened the lab door, called for one of the techs to retrieve the blood and urine samples and begin running them.
"Follow me," he said, looking over his shoulder at Geisler before exiting the room himself.
It was a short walk down the corridor to the physical therapy room. When the doors slid open, Rhula went straight to the treadmill. "Hop on."
Harvey moaned internally. So much blood had just been drawn, and he was already feeling slightly lightheaded. He took one look at the treadmill and wondered when he might collapse. "I don't suppose I could have a drink of water first?"
Dr. Jennin pointed to the replicator on the wall opposite them. "I'm not stopping you. Or did you want me to bring it to you?"
Harvey waved off the Doctor and approached the replicator. Given its location, the options available were minimal, limited to sports drinks, enriched with electrolytes and minerals to help a body rebound, and tepid water. Harvey selected one of the sports drink options, and the replicator produced a small bottle of the beverage with a pop-top lid. Harvey took a generous swig of it and then relocated to the treadmill.
The Chief Medical Officer made some additional notes in the Captain's medical record. "Look," he said sternly, holding out the PADD so it was facing Geisler.
Harvey had just stepped up to the treadmill and was about to start it when he glanced at the medical padd. He looked away, back to the treadmill controls, but only then did he realize what he'd read. "What?" he nearly stammered, surprised that he'd received a clean bill of health.
"You're welcome," he replied gruffly. "Hopefully this has taught you something."
A little light-headed, Harvey stepped down from the treadmill and took another swig of his drink. "It certainly has, Doctor Jennin. I won't postpone medical examinations in the future."
Rhula smiled, an obviously rare event given how much effort it seemed to take. "Good. Take care of your health, Captain. If not for your own sake, but so you can be around to see your kids grow up." His voice grew quieter and his smile was gone. "Children need their parents. Trust me on this."
"Trust you I shall, Doctor," Harvey confirmed. He took a seat nearby to allow his body to calm down a bit. He took another drink, and wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist. "I appreciate the reminder." However difficult it was to experience.
"Doctor Milo is taking excellent care of them," the Bajoran asked more than stated.
Harvey nodded, then rose from his chair, having caught a second wind. "He is. I must say, Doctor, you do have an excellent staff at your disposal."
"Can't take much responsibility in that; I didn't hire them. They do decently, I suppose." He made a final comment in his notes. "Someone will be in contact to schedule your follow up."
"Follow up?" Harvey asked, watching Rhula tap away at the padd he was holding. "What do I need to have followed up?"
"With Counseling. For stress management."
Harvey raised an eyebrow, but he didn't get the chance to respond as the Doctor quickly continued.
"I'm tasked with the health of the crew. That includes you. Mental health is still health. And stress has physiological effects. You don't have to like it, but you do have to do it. I'm only sending you for an evaluation. If the counselor doesn't think you need regular sessions, then you're off the hook. Is that so much to ask?"
The Captain shook his head. "No, I suppose it's not that much trouble." It had been more than a year since his last full evaluation, so it was bound to happen sooner or later. Maybe this meant he would have to rely further on his staff to help with the growing workload from the task group. "I look forward to visiting with the appointed Counselor then. Anything else, Doctor Jennin?"
"Yes, actually." He tucked the PADD under his arm, lifted up his glasses, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Can we have lunch sometime? I feel stupid for even asking."
Harvey was a bit surprised by the request, mainly because it seemed unrelated to everything they'd just been through in the last hour. "We most certainly can," Harvey confirmed. It'd long been his practice to share an occasional meal with members of the senior staff, and it only now dawned on him that he hadn't yet scheduled one with Doctor Jennin. "I think I've got an opening in the next couple of days. Let me double check and we'll make it happen."
Rhula had assumed Geisler wouldn't have time for him, which was the only reason he'd bothered to ask. Shit!
"I'm sure it's too much trouble. I understand."
"It's no trouble at all," Harvey remarked. He finished the drink and placed the bottle back into the replicator.
"I look forward to it," the physician replied, a poor semblance for a smile pulled his face tight. "You are free to go. No need to stop at the front desk."
The Captain smiled and nodded at the Doctor. "Thank you, Doctor Jennin." He pulled down on his uniform jacket and departed the room.
Rhula watched the doors close behind Geisler. "That didn't go as planned," he announced to the empty physical therapy room. "Dammit."
As soon as Harvey had exited sickbay, he paused in the corridor and took a deep breath. The last hour had certainly not been at all what he had expected. Part of him was relieved that it was over, and the rest of him made a note to always use proper naming conventions with all his staff. He'd have to make sure he remembered that whenever the lunch meeting was scheduled. He could only hope that Rhula would cancel and spare them both an uncomfortable meal.