Obsidian Command

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Man of Many Hats

Posted on 18 Mar 2021 @ 6:41am by Commander Calliope Zahn & Lieutenant Commander Ethan Walker, MD, Ph.D

Mission: M2 - Sanctuary
Location: Ardeshir Sick Bay
Timeline: Backpost— following The Days Run Together
1627 words - 3.3 OF Standard Post Measure

Breathing was the first thing Calliope was aware of. Her eyes were heavy, still shuttered with the deepest sleep which she was rising steadily out of once more, a bobbin searching for the surface again. Before she even tried prying them open she sensed the marked silence, the heavenly silence. She was so relieved at the stillness and the lack of itching that tears pooled in the corners of her eyes. She wasn’t ready to move, to disturb it. But her muscles begged to stretch. She started with her limbs and fingers and toes. They almost felt like someone else's fingers and toes the way they seemed slow to respond. The light no longer seemed to be trying to hack into her skull and she braved the smallest of peeks through one slitted eyelid.

A man sat in a chair to the right of the bed, legs crossed and reading a padd. He wore a uniform like any Starfleet Officer might, but his was different. Instead of the blues, yellows or reds of the standard Fleet uniform, he wore a Fleet uniform in black with white trim and a tab collar. He seemed to pay no mind to anything else going on around him, flicking the screen over on his padd and reading on. He turned his eyes up slightly when he heard Calliope stir, and in seeing that she was in fact coming around, he put his padd away and smiled.

“Good evening,” the man said softly.

“Is it?” Trying to speak triggered a sudden need to clear her throat and started a coughing fit she couldn't stop.

Before the man could get up, a Nurse had descended on the bed and brought with her a small cup of water with a straw that had been on the opposite side of the bed and helped her to a sip to moisten her throat.

Sipping greedily, Calliope let the cool water wash her throat and then shuffled to try to sit up, seeing as there were others near. “Is it evening?” She tried asking again with more success.

“A little after nine-thirty,” the man answered, offering a warm smile. He didn’t get up, or really move at all. He just sat there calmly, talking to her as if this was where she normally could be found and that there was nothing at all odd about it. “How are you feeling?”

Calliope frowned, rubbing an eye with one hand and feeling her other arm tremble under the weight of trying to prop her up by itself. She felt sore all over, as if she were one whole Calliope sized bruise. “Groggy, times a thousand,” she said. She took a longer look at him, sat as he was like a guest. “You’re who?”

“Ethan,” he smiled back. “Go easy on yourself. You’ve been in and out of consciousness for a good little while now,” he offered patiently, his words somehow carrying weight without being overbearing at all. He glanced at the big bouquet of flowers on the stand next to the bed to his left. “He left about an hour ago,” he offered, assuming that to be the first question she’d have.

It was a heavy glass vase, as it had to be to hold up the tall, brightly colored arrangement of sunflowers and snapdragons. Calliope smiled at the memories they evoked. “I took him with me to a farm to pick sunflowers and snapdragons. Once. In England. We were on our way to see his mother for tea and I was trying to make a gesture.” The arrangement she brought his mother had been set aside with barely masked distaste, passed off to the butler by the door for ‘a little color in the kitchen’ and crestfallen Calliope had to swallow the rejection. The whole funny-in-retrospect endearing drama of that day long ago played over Calliope’s face and she relaxed back in bed, looking between Ethan and the flowers. “He remembered,” she said.

The man beside the bed smirked, “For as long as you’ve been here, he hasn’t forgotten to come see you once,” she smiled patiently, “How long have you been married?”

“It will be our fifteenth anniversary this year.”

“Congratulations,” he beamed happily. “Hopefully you’ve got something special planned for it. Every year is a milestone, but fifteen… that’s special on its own,” he said. He still sat there patiently, not moving or getting up. No rush for a tricorder or any other device. The Nurses passing by didn’t seem to pay them any mind at all. It was almost like they were in their own little world there in the bio-bed alcove. After what seemed like an eternity, during which he let her look around and take in her surroundings at her own pace, he finally spoke again. “I imagine you have quite a few questions. Please,” he said, gesturing as if to indicate she could speak freely.

She sighed. “They started the therapy? How long have I been out of it?”

“Doctor Mazur began your therapy, but transferred you to our care here. Too many trauma patients on the station,” he answered conversationally, “You’ve been down the better part of a week.”

“Is Captain DeHavilland okay?”

He chuckled brightly, “Captain DeHavilland is doing just fine. She was here yesterday to check on you. Unfortunately, nothing to report. You may yet see her tonight, I understand she’s a bit of a night owl.”

Calliope closed her eyes for a moment, exhaling with a wash of relief before coming up with another little self orienting question. “Wait, where is here?”

“The Ardeshir,” the man answered plainly, “A Luna-class. We’re in orbit of Obsidian, getting ready to undergo a pretty substantial refit on OC. Captain Hawthorne told us to expect six months?” he smiled, “It’ll be nice to have a bit of down time for once.”

“And you're the Chaplain?” They’d had a chaplain on the Paracelsus and she recognized the uniform variant.

“I can wear that hat if you need me to,” he replied, “But I’m also the Chief Counselor here. I’m Doctor Walker. Father Walker if you prefer. I worked just as hard for both,” he chuckled, “Welcome to the Ardeshir.”

“Thanks,” She looked a little confused. “But I’m not really religious or anything exactly. And I don’t really need a counselor.”

“I’ll wear my Doctor’s hat then,” he smiled back. “I understand you’re a bit groggy still, and the long, technical words to explain what’s going are going to sound like gobbledygook. So hopefully I can ease you into the details,” he continued, “I am a Counselor, and a Priest, obviously,” he chuckled, gesturing to himself, “But my speciality as a Physician is the effect drugs can have on the mind. Psychopharmacology. One of many hats I wear,” he laughed. “Now, you may not believe you’re in need of someone like me but, regardless, it’s up to me to make sure you’re in the best health. You’re in good hands. I promise,” he smiled genuinely.

Calliope wanted to like him, his gentle voice and his optimism, but her lips screwed tight. She was coiling up inside. Mind altering drugs? She’d never taken anything mind altering until whatever the hell Mazur had given her to trip on. She grabbed her blanket and curled up tighter. “When can I go home?”

“If I told you I had an answer to that question, I’d be lying, and that’s not something I do,” he answered with a pained expression. He could understand the frustration there; there was nothing like being in your own place, where you were most comfortable. There was a preponderance of empirical evidence that made it clear that one’s surroundings were the single most important factor in mental health recovery. “We’re going to have to take it one day at a time. The fact that you’re awake, and conversational,” he grinned, “Is a very good sign.”

Calliope tucked her face into the covers to indicate she was finished with being conversational and set her mind to one thing. Get better, and get out.

A Nurse approached the station, pushing a small cart and smiled at Doctor Walker, “Doctor Turan asked me to get her vitals once she was awake,” she explained.

“Another time,” Doctor Walker answered with a friendly smile.

“He was adamant, Doctor. It’ll just take a second,” the Nurse shook her head.

“It’s Prickett, right?” Walker asked, standing up from his chair and offering his hand. “Ethan Walker. I saw the manifest. New this week, right?” he said as she shook his hand.

“Uhm, yes,” she nodded, “I just…” she said as she released his hand, trying to politely move around him.

“I meant to come and speak with you earlier today, got sidetracked with another patient. We should sit down and talk. Lieutenant Tuvar from Eclipse sent your file ahead. I might not be the logistician Tuvar is, but I’m sure we can continue your therapy without too much interruption.”

“You’re the… Counselor?”

“I am,” he said, gently putting a hand on the cart. “Do you have any plans tomorrow afternoon? Before you report for your shift? Later this week? When works for you, Yvette?” he asked, at last successful in getting her to abandon the cart and withdraw from the bio-suite.

Calliope listened to the exchange, secretly relieved that Ethan had diverted the nurse, but hardly planning to thank him for it. She just remained still until her tired body weighted her back into sleep.


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