Episode 0 - Semper Fidelis
Location: Counselor's Office, USS Bunker Hill
It had been a while since T'Lor practiced psychology. The transition to medicine had been rather rewarding, but the mind had always fascinated her more than the body so she volunteered herself for the vacant counselor's position, at least until Starfleet Medical sent someone more permanent.
As she waited for her next appointment, T'Lor wasted no time and brushed up on the history of the Kumerian Republic with some reading. She was to meet up with the ship's first officer later to continue their conversation on the subject, and she wanted to be prepared.
Michaela was curious to see one of her doctors was doubling as a counselor. She'd been busy making sure everything in sickbay was the way she wanted it. She knew most of her staff, but hadn't talked to T'lor personally for more than a minute or two. Maybe she also wanted to see the counselor, but it made a nice enough cover for her ego to get in the office.
Michaela had been to counselors before, of course. She didn't object to the profession, and she certainly understood the necessity, as a professional doctor herself. That didn't mean that it wasn't still difficult to make herself go. If nothing else, it was time she wasn't spending doing the few things she was still free to enjoy between work and her children.
She chimed at the door as a precursor. She let herself in. "Good afternoon," She greeted as she did.
T'Lor looked up from her PADD and found her patient standing at the door way.
"Dr. Taylor." She nodded and motioned toward the nearest couch. "Thank you for coming. Please make yourself comfortable."
"Just Michaela is fine," Mickey said with the absent mindedness of practice. When she needed formality she preferred just 'doctor' anyway.
She did sit though, glancing around the office T'lor had made herself. "Thank you for taking up the mantle, by the way - I was worried about finding cover for the counselor."
"It's my pleasure." Said T'Lor. "And I do appreciate the opportunity to go back to psychology, if only temporarily." Having gone through the routine pleasantry, the acting counselor dived right into business. "How are you doing, Michaela?" She asked.
Michaela fidgetted a little bit. It was always awkward starting out. Despite knowing it was a counselor's job to listen, it still felt like whining to her - perhaps remnants of what her Grandmother always told her.
She said, "I like the ship. Its much ... more close than a starbase."
"Tell me more about this 'closeness'." The Vulcan prodded. "Is it more of a physical nature, or an emotional one? Or perhaps both?"
"Oh, a little of both I think. Being held in a ship this small is bound to force both, right?" She smiled slightly. "Its just different from Spacedock, that's all. No better or worse, just ... different."
T'Lor nodded and scribbled down a few notes. Looking back up, she asked. "What was it like for you to leave the USS Aurora? I understand five years are a considerable period of time for species with a relatively short life span. Was it something you looked forward to?"
"Yes and no. I was ... I joined Starfleet for the travel ... its just not how it happened for me. But my kids didn't want to move ... so there was an aspect of dread to all that."
"Hmm, please tell me more about your kids. Are you close?"
"Yes. Well. I like to think that we are, though I'm sure my kids would like to think that we're not. Of course, Alexander is a teenager so he's unlikely to be forthcoming and Erin is ... well she's almost a teenager, so she's starting to pull away. But we've always been a close family - we had to be. Its just us, I mean."
"How are they adjusting to their new environment? I believe we have several other children on board. How has their interaction with their peers be?"
"Most of the other children are younger. I think Erin gets along okay. Alex is still sulking for the most part. Locks himself in with headphones and refuses to talk to anyone. I'd be worried, except he's still eating ... and he was doing that anyway." She sighed. "Seventeen. He had a girlfriend ... he thinks I should have left him there."
Taking some more notes, T'Lor asked, "What do you think, Michaela? Should you have left him on the Aurora?"
It only took a heartbeat to answer - Michaela had alreadu made up her mind. "No. He can take care of himseld. I know he can get his own food and clean his own clothes. He even does his schoolwork on his own now ... thank god ... but I just ... I'm his mother. If I was Erin ... maybe. But Alex still needs me." She just knew.
"I do feel bad about the girl, though - she's a nice girl. Good for him." Michaela sighed.
"How about yourself, Michaela? Did you leave anyone on the Aurora that you wish you could have brought over with you?"
"No ... not really. I was friends with the captain, I guess - but that was more because Alex's girlfriend was his daughter." Michaela shrugged slightly, a little blush touching her cheeks. It was always hard to talk about herself. Mostly because she often realized how shallow and non-existant most of her relationships were.
The Vulcan took note of the slight flush of red on her patient's cheeks, and pressed on with her questions. "I know this might be difficult, Michaela, and you are under no obligation to answer. Have you been in any romantic relationships since the passing of your late husband?"
"No. I mean ... no ... I just. Busy." Michaela sighed slightly. That's all she could say about that - it wasn't as if she was oblivious or even uninterested. Her family just tended to eclipse everything.
"Busy with the children? Or work?"
"Both. Mostly my family." Michaela admitted, curling her fingers together tightly in her lap.
"Do you believe the needs of your children outweigh your own?"
"Yes," Michaela said immediately, tilting her head slightly with a small puzzled expression - of course she did. She was a mother, that was sort of the job description as far as she was concerned.
T'Lor noted her quick response. "Do you believe it is possible to balance your need with your children's? Or do you believe the one necessary excludes the other?"
Michaela thought about that am moment, "I guess I'll find out soon enough. Just ... there's always something going on." She looked at her hands again.
"Things such as?"
"Crises at work, failing classes, first girlfriends ... everything's very catastrophic when it happens. Doesn't leave much time for myself. But really, its not ... bad." She shrugged slightly.
The counselor nodded. "What do you do when you do have some time for yourself?"
"Read, mostly," Michaela said with a shrug, "I like cooking. Making clothes."
"Of course. Those are are mostly solitary pursuits. Neither Alex or Erin have shown much interest in either." Michaela smirked at that.
"How has your interaction with the rest of the crew been?" Asked T'Lor with the same stoic, but soft, expression. Being one of Michaela's doctors, she knew what it was like working with her, but she was interested in how the Chief Medical Officer perceived it, especially her off duty social life.
"Alright. I think I managed to scold or tick off both the Captain and the XO in the first week." She shrugged though, non-plussed. The Captain appeared to be surly either way, and Oliver she'd more or less made up with. "But its important to me that I don't spend my time running around after avoidable injuries, so I suppose its well enough I made my official opinion on ridiculous training exercises and people who don't take care of themselves clear." Michaela scowled a little at that. "If it prevents further incident..."
T'Lor nodded. "Agreed. Some of the crew's affinity for violent confrontation can be . . . disconcerting."
That was the first time she expressed her own opinion in the session, something she usually refrained from as a counselor. But she was just as dismayed by the senseless injuries resulting from the security drills as Michaela. She knew, but still couldn't quite comprehend, Ensign Navaar's enthusiasm at the opportunity to "whip those nerdy nerds into shape," as the security officer and her roommate so elegantly explained to her. It was a relief, therefore, when Lieutenant Lee brought the drills to an end in his own rather unorthodox way.
It was just unfortunate that the marine commander was injured in the process. T'Lor still remembered how worried Ensign Hye was for First Lieutenant Ymir despite her repeated assurance that the marine's injury, while extensive, were in no way life threatening. It was just another example of emotional irrationality that she struggled to understand.
But that understanding could wait for the moment. She had a patient to attend to.
"How much time, Michaela, do you normally devote to social activities with the crew or anyone other than your children when you are off duty?" She asked.
Michaela frowned slightly. Her counselors had always harped on this a bit, and while she could understand on one hand ... on the other she knew herself well enough to know she wasn't much of a social creature, and didn't actually need as much interaction as many people seemed to. She wasn't a counselor herself, but she was a doctor; she did understand some of the concepts of it. Everyone was different after all.
"Almost none. Sometimes I have lunch with staff." That was as much a morale thing as anything, and really just part of the job.
"Do you not take pleasure when you socialize with others?"
"No, that's not it. I just ... I'm an introvert I guess. You know, recharge being alone rather than being with others."
T'Lor nodded as she jotted down more notes. "That is an interesting analogy, Michaela. Do you frequently find yourself in need of . . . recharging?"
"Doesn't everyone? That used to be the definition of an introvert or an extrovert. How one regained energy."
"The Federation Psychological Society expanded the definition of introversion and extroversion in 2372, not without some controversy if I may add, but I digress." Taking a brief pause, the counselor continued with her original line of questioning. "To the best of your memory, have you always been this introverted, Michaela."
"Yes. I don't know. I always read a lot. But ... to be fair, there wasn't much else to do. I just ... don't recall ever being unhappy about it." That wasn't exactly true, but it was a vague feeling at best. Michaela was painfully aware of how terrible some peoples' lives were. Though hers was not a parade of sunshine, it certainly could have been worse. She didn't dwell on it.
T'Lor took down more notes to remind herself to come back to the question of memory in the next session with Michaela. Not remembering being unhappy was not quite the same thing as not being unhappy.
Besides which - Michaela's file was pretty clear on the 'eidetic memory' thing. It had come up in previous counselling.
"I would like to discuss that a little more next time." Said the Vulcan. "But I am afraid we are out of time for today. Thank you for coming, Michaela. It is good to have you."
"No problem. I think the ship's in good hands as far as Counseling is concerned."
Lieutenant JG Michaela Taylor
Chief Medical Officer
USS Bunker Hill
USS Bunker Hill