USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Counselor Doolittle

Posted on Thu Oct 20th, 2016 @ 7:42pm by Ensign Anastasia Bogolyubov

Mission: S1E1 - Booby Trap
Location: Junior Officer Quarters
Timeline: Mission Day 8

As a lowly Ensign, Jaya had been a junior counselor aboard the Renown underneath an older Betazoid chief counselor. A male Betazoid. She maintained her distance from him. He was a perfect gentleman, to be sure. The command staff assumed her avoidance of the man was due to working opposite shifts, and she had been content to let them continue under that misconception. The truth was far more embarrassing and all too common--the chief counselor was in love with her. He had been crestfallen when she formally put in her transfer request, but he said he understood. His words were betrayed by his telepathic acumen, however, and Jaya knew the truth all too well.

Deltans evoked natural attraction through pheramones, but their psychic empathy allowed them to bond body and soul with one another. Most species were not anywhere near attaining that level of oneness within themselves as individuals, much less with another person. Even Betazoids were more thinkers than feelers, meaning their psyches could still be too fragile for Deltan intimacy. Whatever the case, the Oath of Celibacy required of all Deltans serving in Starfleet ended any romantic relationship before it got started.

For Jaya, the Vindex was a fresh start where she could begin again--this time with proper barriers to prevent unwanted infatuations. As such, she endeavored to restrict herself to only necessary crew interaction, at least until she settled in. After evaluating Ensign Anastasia Bogolyubov in Sickbay, she decided to make an exception.

As she approached Anastasia's quarters, she quickly reviewed the record on her PADD from the quartermaster and ship's biologist: a Terran housecat had indeed been delivered. She buzzed the door and folded her hands behind her back along with the PADD.

Anastasia was sitting at her desk, an enigmatic smile on her face, her right hand making entries on her PADD, the left one quietly stroking a sleeping Prokhvost. When she heard the signal, Anastasia gently slid the sleeping Prokhvost off her lap as she stood up, placing the kitten on the now empty chair. Straightening her uniform, Anastasia turned toward the door and said, "Enter."

"Sorry to drop in unexpected." Jaya crossed the threshold with a mild swagger, arms behind her back. "I just needed to ensure the welfare of my newest patient." Time to see if her gamble would work. She walked over to the chair with the sleeping Prokhvost and knelt down, folding her hands in her lap. "I see you're napping, so I'll make this quick. Can you tell me how you feel?"

The cat's stomach rose and fell with its breathing.

"I see." Jaya smirked and nodded as if there had actually been a reply. "Yes, Anastasia is very nice. You're lucky to have her. What's that?" She inclined her ear toward the sleeping cat. "You're happy to be here? Well, we're happy to have you, Prokhvost. I'll come see you again soon, all right? Good bye." Prokhvost sneezed in her sleep, but remained unresponsive.

Now for the payoff. Jaya stood to her feet and turned to Anastasia. "I am pleased to report that Prokhvost is doing well. You must be taking good care of him."

Anastasia studied Jaya solemnly before giving her a nod. "He enjoys the container that his scratching post was delivered in, from Operations. Though it is important that he saw the container did indeed contain a scratching post, or he would not have appreciated it as much. May I fix you a cup of tea, Counselor?"

"That would be lovely," Jaya replied. "I'll have what you're having." She allowed Anastasia to approach the replicator before asking as nonchalantly as possible, "So, what do you think of the Vindex?"

"It is distinctly different from my experience at Novosibirsk State University," she answered, returning with two cups of black tea. Setting one down in front of Jaya, she asked, "Sugar or lemon? And may I inquire about your gambit?"

"Plain, thank you." Jaya took a sip, taking a moment to read Anastasia's psychological and emotional status. This woman was so unique! She was like a bright star, at first monochromatic and unmoving until you approached close enough to see the blazing solar fire orbited by brilliantly colored planets, many of which had satellites revolving around them, as well, in an intricate orchestration of complex, systematic order. Layers within layers hidden beneath a boilterplate emotional facade. It pained Jaya to think how often others must contrast Anastasia's beautiful face with her inaccessible inner mind and thereby condemn her. "I'm afraid I don't know what you mean," she said at last. "I am unfamiliar with that word. 'Gambit.'" She held a thin smile to her lips as a warm gesture of reassurance to coax a deep-seated exchange rather than a purely cerebral response.

Anastasia tilted her head to one side, her gaze never wavering from Jaya. "Gambit. An act or remark that is calculated to gain an advantage, especially at the outset of a situation." Anastasia straightened her head, then walked over and gently scooped up Prokhvost, settling the sleeping kitten on her lap as she sat across from Jaya. "I will admit I voluntarily engage in a dichotomy when interacting with cats. But it makes me..." Anastasia paused before concluding..."equanimous. I've noted that some individuals who interact with me will replicate my behavior as a form of derision for their own amusement, and assume I will not recognize it as such." Anastasia set her tea down and held her right hand out to Jaya. "You do it as a method of establishing rapport."

"I am the chief counselor," Jaya said charily as she took a seat. She set her tea aside and folded her hands on her lap. "It's my responsibility to ensure the emotional and psychological well-being of everyone on the ship. As far as I'm concerned, that includes Prokhvost as well as yourself." She offered a sly half-grin. "Besides, I have always heard that Terran housecats have immense therapeutic value. After meeting one in the flesh, I can personally attest to it. Sometimes Starfleet measures a being's value solely on its sentience and level of intelligence. Such scales leave noble creatures such as little Prokvhost as little more than plant-life. Other rubrics would value his kind for an emotional complexity that is beyond their biology."

Jaya closed her eyes, took a breath, and reached out to Anastasia with her empathic touch in order to provide the faintest push of sincerity behind her next words. "I confess that I replicated your way of speaking to Prokhvost," she said, opening her eyes wide, "but that is only because you cannot observe the manner in which I subliminally and empathically interact with him, even when he's asleep." Her eye flickered with the tiniest wink. "Though I am pleased that I gained a rapport with you in doing so."

Anastasia nodded solemnly, as she moved her hand back, sipping her tea in silence for a fer moments before pronouncing. "I miss my brother Roman. I could talk to him, and he would help me interpret things. But how I have Prokhvost," she said, staring down at the sleeping kitten as she gently stroked it. "Here, I feel more alone than I do at home, because my brother Dmitri is out there, hunting Starfleet. It's like a fable my grandmother would tell me, but there is no prince to deal with Baba Yaga and set things to right. Lieutenant Johansson delivered Prokhvost to me. She even sat and had tea with me. She is like my brother Nikolai. She is distance, but wishes things to work correctly for all."

Pain. But also love. Rare in many developmental disorders. Jaya furiously took mental notes, nodding all the while. "Have you considered that perhaps others may need your interpretation like you needed Roman's?"

Anastasia's eyebrows furrowed as she remained silent for a few minutes. Finally she answered, "I describe things mathematically. I cannot connect. Roman helped me to connect. I miss that."

"Of course. I did not intend to be contrary." Jaya paused, then removed her combadge. "Oh-wah-ii na-li-ah-lo oo-ma-ni-ni ah-la-cha-omu-ah." She replaced her combadge. "In the Deltan tongue, I said, 'Mathematics is the language of the universe.' All you needed to understand that was the universal translator." Jaya stepped forward, took Anastasia by the hand, and looked deep into her eyes. "Look at what you can do rather than what you cannot. You have family, friends, and colleagues to supplement for that. Instead, realize what you alone have to offer those around you, and let your relationships grow from that. People respect honesty, and they will come to love you when you let them see you for who you are without apology. You will find you are never alone, Anastasia." She blinked, smiling at herself. "May I call you Anastasia? I usually ask before presuming a first name basis."

Anastasia nodded her consent, though her countenance was still studious. "When I worked with Dr. Murai Alta-Thira, she told me that one of the reasons she enjoyed collaborating with me was that she did not have to worry about her influence on me. My hybrid physiology means I am not susceptible to Deltan pheromones and subconscious mental projections. In addition, I do not attempt to interpret social cues without careful analysis, so often I do not respond to them." Anastasia paused, then stated matter-of-factly "I would like to fall in love. Since you have taken an oath of celibacy while serving in Starfleet, could I discuss this matter with you? If I decide to fall in love with a particular person, you could advise me of their suitability, and advise me on my progress."

Jaya could not help but grin. The childlike candor of the request was overshadowed by the truthful longing inside Anastasia. "Nothing would make me happier, Anastasia. And if you would simply wish to pass the time with someone, my door will always be open." Her eyes darted up and to the side, as if hearing a voice or alarm. "I had better go. Thank you for welcoming me, and for the tea. I had a lovely time. You will be sure to reach out regarding the things we've discussed?"

More than a hint of a smile appeared on Anastasia's lips as she nodded. "I will. And..." Anastasia paused, looking down at a waking Prokhvost before gazing back up at Jaya, "Both of us would welcome you to come join us for tea again as well."

"Thank you." Jaya smiled and dipped her head in a demure bow. She leaned in to embrace Anastasia and released before she could respond one way or another. As she turned toward the door, she looked back over her shoulder. "I've heard wonderful things about the Russian game called 'chess.' Perhaps you could teach me the rules sometime." She tossed her head forward as she sashayed out of the room and down the corridor.

Anastasia was going to ponder her last exchange when the wakening Prokhvost demanded her attention. Giving the kitten an uncharacteristically bright smile, she put other thoughts out of mind as she engaged her playful pet.

 

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