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"Shooting the Breeze"

Posted on 12 Aug 2021 @ 12:26am by Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D. & Commander Terry Walsh

Mission: Extinction
Location: Commander Walsh's Office, USS Black Hawk
Timeline: Mission Day 0 at

***

It wasn't very often Avery traveled anywhere near the bridge or the command staff offices. Recently, Tivan had done most of the command level advising from the bridge, while Avery handled the vast majority of the clinical duties. No, however, Avery felt an obligation to do damage control and touch base with everyone, especially those at the top who had the weight of the entire crew on their shoulders.

Plus it was nice to get out of her office and stretch her legs.

Pressing the time outside of Commander Walsh's office, report in hand, she waited to be granted entry, looking forward to catching up.

"It's open," Terry called out.

Hearing Walsh's response, Avery stepped into the office as soon as the doors hissed open just as she expected. She wasn't the sort of person to snap to attention directly in front of his desk, but as she approached, she offered a smile and a respectful, " here are the latest personnel reports from the counseling department, sir. I know I could've given these to administration, but I decided to use the excuse to stretch my legs." Of course, the reports contain no sensitive or confidential information, but they did contain a general overview of everyone's fitness, which gave command the information they needed to make decisions critical to their missions or for promotion.

Terry nodded and took the reports from Avery. "Stretching one's legs after sitting at a desk long enough to put together reports is a good thing." He put them on the desk and nodded toward the replicator. "Can I get you anything? Snack? Drink?"

Avery's smile grew into her eyes sparkled mischievously. "A partner in crime in my procrastination, I like it. I'll take a club soda with lime please, thanks."

Terry chuckled as he got up from the desk. "Just a break for the moment." He ordered the drink and watched it materialize before taking it to Lieutenant Stuart. "If I procrastinated, they'd pile up way too fast."

Accepting the drink, Avery replied, "Don't I know it," before taking a sip and offering a satisfied sign. " I was hoping the brass at Starfleet Medical would cut me some slack about submitting progress reports, but I actually had someone tell me once that maintaining the red tape routine would be good for my mental health. For once, I was glad to be light years away from the muckety muck on the screen." The counselor chuckled. "So other than that, President Lincoln, how was the play?"

Terry stopped in mid-drink and set his mug down. "President Lincoln? Play? I'm not sure I follow."

"Sorry," Avery replied. "I forget not everyone is familiar with ancient Earth history. Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States. He was shot at Ford's theater where he was watching a play. Referring to you in that way and asking how the play was, is my attempt to be sarcastic and teasing given what we've been through. In my own way, I was trying to ask how you were."

"Ohhh," said Terry, "I see. I'm one of those that isn't familiar with that history. But I'm doing well, thanks."

"I suppose it was also my lame attempt at a joke," Avery added. " I don't know about you, but after all we've been through lately, I figure if I can't figure out a way to laugh, I'll explode. I imagine you might be able to relate a little to that feeling, yeah?"

"Oh, gotcha," he said, "a joke. Yeah, you've got a point there. We have to find some kind of outlet what with everything that's happened. Laughter and humor works for a lot of people around here. But you're right, can't keep it all inside. Doesn't do yourself or anyone else any good."

"I also imagine finding outlets to manage your stress is especially important for you now as executive officer. That must've been quite an adjustment for you," Avery remarked sincerely. "With the captain moving up the ladder, it also occurs to me more has been put on your shoulders."

Terry nodded. "Yes, yes, and yes. It's been quite the adjustment for sure."

"What do you think's been the hardest part?" Avery asked. "I ask because I'm still trying to decide if I would actually like more responsibility," She added with a chuckle.

"Taking my hands off of things," he answered. "I was used to managing one department. Now I'm getting used to managing a whole lot of other things besides departments."

Avery nodded. "I can only imagine. I have my hands full with one department and that's with me feeling pretty confident with what it takes. Having to have some familiarity with things that are brand new and out of your comfort zone, at least to some degree, would be quite the crucible." Avery grew thoughtful then and offered, "I apologize for not touching base with you before now. As you know, things have been a little crazy in my neck of the woods, but it occurs to me you and I have similar responsibilities when it comes to managing different personalities and making sure people's needs are met. If I can ever help you out, officially, or even just giving you someone to commiserate with, feel free to let me know. I know it's not uncommon for someone from my department to meet with someone from command to go over performance review reports, for example."

"Yeah, I'll keep that in mind, your offer to help out," said Terry. "I'm sure we'll end up crossing paths again. You and I, or even me and the counselling department." His mind went back to all of the zany and utterly terrifying things that'd happened to him since coming aboard the Black Hawk. "No doubt about that."

Avery nodded. "Our doors are always open," she offered sincerely before adding, "Is there something in particular on your mind, sir?"

"Eh, not really. Just thinking about all the zany and terrifying things we've come across since I first came aboard as a Chief Support Craft Pilot. That's a big sack of cats, lemme tell you." Terry laughed. "And usually results in our doors being used a lot. From counseling sessions on your end to transfer requests on mine."

"That much is true," Avery agreed. "Sometimes I can't believe I've been with this crew since the beginning. Do you ever feel 10 years older than you actually are some days? Speaking personally, I think Tivan's antics gave me quite a few gray hairs. I felt more like a babysitter than a colleague." It was a very candid admission from Avery who hadn't even spoken that directly to Harvey.

"Ten?" said Terry. "Let's try fifteen as of late." He grinned and continued. "Yeah, I read some of those reports. But as far as gray hairs...," he rubbed his hand over his bald head, "...this way they don't show the age or the stress. I'm sorry you felt that way, though."

Hearing his reference to his own baldness, Avery's eyes sparkled in mith. "That, sir, is an excellent point." She allowed a moment of humor to pass between them before she asked, somewhat carefully, " I don't wish to speak out of turn or to be perceived as whining, sir, but I feel compelled to ask. Do you know of any reason why Starfleet Medical would not want me to lead the counseling department? If there's something I'm not doing well enough or some thing I am neglecting in your eyes, for example, I would appreciate any feedback. I don't mind at all being a team player, but I can't help but notice, at least when it comes to our last two arrivals to the department, each person seems to have a bit less experience and a bit more of a checkered background." Of course, that was an understatement when it came to the Vulcan she had just mentioned, but Avery was still trying to be diplomatic.

"I'm sorry Counselor," said Terry, "I don't know why Starfleet Medical does what it was does. Let alone this. I can make some inquiries...see what that turns up. I haven't had any complaints or concerns come across my desk regarding you, either. Just keep on keeping on and I'll ask around." He wasn't sure if that would help anything or not, but it was what he could do.

"Thank you, sir," Avery replied sincerely. "I know command works in mysterious ways and as I said, I'm not going to stop being a team player, but I was starting to wonder. I appreciate your willingness to look into it."

"That they do," he said. "And I'll take a look. Can't promise anything, but I'll see what turns up."

"I appreciate that, sir," Avery replied. "Is there anything I can do for you, considering I just added some thing to your plate?"

"Nah," he answered. "I learned a while back how to spin more than one plate at a time." He grinned. "But thanks for the offer."

"Anytime." Stuart replied with a smile as she stood and headed for the door. It was a good chat, and though she didn't know him terribly well just yet, she could see he was friendly and interested in the well-being of the crew. Naturally, he had to be a bit guarded to balance his responsibilities - not unlike herself Avery supposed - but she hoped to get to know him better now that the ice had been broken.

 

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