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Counselor A

Posted on Fri Apr 7th, 2017 @ 12:51am by Ensign Asher Maddison MD & Commander Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: Sickbay - Doctor's Office
Timeline: MD 76

The week had turned out to be far less boring than anticipated, and not only due to the influx of new crewmembers or the change in specs that all required oversight and approval. No, Akiva had found himself in a place he never expected himself to be: a love triangle.

Of course, his normal therapist was gone. Counselor Maera was running off to sort out of her own romantic interests with her pending nuptials. Fortunately the new CMO was also cross-trained as a counselor--not unheard of, but definitely rare enough to warrant a silent prayer of gratitude. Akiva had made some strides lately, but he knew this was beyond him.

When he arrived in Sickbay, he felt his trademark hives bristling beneath the surface of his skin just waiting to pop out. Sickbay always made him anxious. He quickly made for the Doctor's office in hopes that Asher was inside. Wandering about in search of her was not an enticing thought.

After chiming at the office door, Akiva tried not to bounce on his heels in waiting.

Her office was a tip, Asher hadn't had time to tidy anything up in the day she had between verbally agreeing to Akiva's appointment and the time of the appointment. As quickly as she could, Asher started to stack the mess into something tidier, checking it was passable to a senior officer in the process, freezing solid when the chime rang.

"Oh shit, nobody's ever late if I want them to be." Asher muttered, standing in front of the pile on her desk in a poor attempt to try and hide it.

"Come in, take a seat," Asher said, lowering her voice to a mutter before carrying on, "and don't look at the mess on my table."

"A mess just means work was done," Akiva offered politely, then added with a more somber tone, "thank you for seeing me on such short notice."

Sighing, Asher made the pile visible, pointing to the lounger on the left side of her table against the wall. She herself sat on her desk to face her patient, with a casual setting more likely to reassure someone Asher clearly felt struggled with telling people about his feelings.

"It's okay. If this is for you or you feel I am someone you wish to keep talking to, we'll schedule some more on a regular basis. Before we start though, would you like any refreshments?" Asher asked, politely, reaching behind her to get Akiva's medical file up and bringing herself up to date with his progress while he was getting comfortable.

"No, I'm fine, thank you." Akiva sat in the chair provided and folded his hands over his bouncing knee. "As you can imagine, this has been a very eventful year for me: I was promoted to XO, started a family with a daughter, and recently survived a mutiny that cost us all dearly. I nearly lost my daughter when I refused to negotiate with a terrorist. She pulled through, barukh HaShem. And now... just when I thought I had finally found balance again... there's this... dilemma." He chewed his lip. "One might even call it a conflict of interests."

Asher listened and nodded, glancing through the records before facing her patient. Clearly, Akiva had a lot of confusion in his life, and a big sudden rush of events in his life had taken it out on him. Her own counselor had taught Asher to look at the problems, break them down, and manage them in smaller pieces.

"Well, it sounds like you've been spending more time on a roller coaster since you got here, but I really do understand how you're feeling. It sounds like you're overwhelmed and now, there's even more problems piling on top of the ones you started with. Okay, on the face of things and the notes on your file, you're doing a lot better than you think. Firstly, what I think you should do is work out what your biggest issue is, and then break it down into more manageable sections." Asher said, pausing and moving her hair out of her face.

"I was taught that the best way to deal with a big problem is to think of it as a cake," Asher said, continuing, "and then cut it into smaller pieces so you can eat it in stages, unless you're me of course. So to start with, what's your dilemma?"

"I've never had a relationship," Akiva said, then clarified. "A romantic relationship. And, now, I find myself falling into not one but two. Given my position, I don't know how ethical it is forming two relationships with women onboard the Vindex. That doesn't even touch the responsibility of bringing a potential mother figure into my daughter's life, or the social responsibility I bear back home to marry into my culture, and... well, that might be enough for now." He cracked a weary smile. "Where do you think we should begin?"

Asher sympathised, she hadn't had one either, but her intimate experience with Tabetha Relton still counted.

"Neither have I, and if I'm honest, I find myself in a similar position to you," Asher said. "I've never let myself have anybody because I wanted to make a difference to someone's life via my profession instead of, romance. Having feelings for more than one person is fine, but what isn't the right thing to do is be with two people until you decide who you want to be with, or can't live without. The only person who can make that decision for you is yourself, not person A, person B or Counselor A. There will always be times you can say you love someone for reasons X, Y and Z, but when you think about the person you love and want to be with forever, you won't have any reasons at all. Heck, I'm so into someone right now I don't know why, but I'm not sure I'm ready for it yet."

"Right." Akiva glanced down at his folded hands, then back at Asher. "I was not raised to... be... with someone. Only the one. It's a cultural thing. All of my personal issues notwithstanding, I just can't go 'there' until I am sure." He flushed in the face for a moment. "Which... is to say... that I've never... you know." He swallowed the lump in his throat and tried to push past the embarrassment. "So how do you know?"

Asher knew immediately what Akiva was on about, and it was hard for her to say this, but it was how she felt.

"Commander, you need to be with who you know is the one for you, you don't need to please anyone else but yourself and the person you want to be with. I've spent a lot of my life worrying about what others think about my choices, so, I never made any. I don't want to see you go the same way, you need to make a choice that feels right for what you want, because if your loved ones really care, then they'll support you. How do I know about, that? Well, I think about them a lot and it's like, yeah, I don't know why I like them. It's like a feeling in my stomach, butterflies if you like, and when you feel it yourself, you'll know what I'm on about." Asher said, hopping off the desk and going to get a drink from the replicator.

"Carry on talking if you want, you don't have to wait for me to get back."

"I haven't spoken to most of my family in years." Akiva turned mournful. "My father... since joining Starfleet. There are intense social debates that I won't go into now, and we're on opposite sides. He's all but disowned me, and on Hebron... what the father says goes." He made a wry chuckle to mask his pain. "If not for the fact I was his firstborn, he may have already disowned me. Now I have a synthetic lifeform that I have named daughter, and have fallen for two beautiful goyim... um, outsiders... I can't see as how I would have anything positive waiting for me back home."

Asher came back with her hot chocolate in a tall frosted glass, placing it in between her legs on the desk once she'd sat down. Holding it up to take a sip of it, she wiped the cream off her top lip before returning the glass to its previous position.

"Commander," Asher said, "you can't let your father's ideas and principles get in the way of your feelings or your love. It sounds like he can't embrace change, and if he cannot do that for you, then don't worry about trying to please him. He's your father and he should love you unconditionally, whether that's your career choice or who you want to be with. You need to go and find out who you love, be with them, and offer your father the chance to accept it. If he can't accept it Commander, then really, it's his problem."

"It wouldn't be the least of his problems." Akiva made a wry chuckle. "But, still, my father isn't the only problem back home; he's just the one I can least ignore. I don't know which... lady... is the one. I've only started on this road recently, and it's already a painful one. I can't have both, and I don't want to choose." He bit his cheek in thought. "And, to be honest, choosing is frightful. If I do, then I've resigned myself to outsider status. While I could go home to visit, neither prospective bride is likely to be accepted... and that's if they even wanted to grow old on my homeworld."

Akiva sighed deeply. "Why can't this be simpler? I'm starting to the wisdom in the ancient tradition of arranged marriages."

"Deciding who you want to be with isn't just an A or B choice, it's what your heart feels, it's how you feel whenever you're around or thinking about that person that matters. It doesn't matter if you're called an outsider, because no matter where you are, you'd have the woman you love and your daughter with you and that should matter more than anything." Asher said, then stopping so she could have more of her hot chocolate, feeling that this counseling session was helping her just as much as her patient.

"At least with you, Commander." Asher said, sighing, "you don't have the worry of a doctor dating a patient. Everyone on this ship could at some point be my patient, but I'm beginning to think it's time I threw the ethics book out of the window, and let myself be happy. I can't tell you who to make your one true love, but whoever it is, you'll know who it is when you see her and just think 'I can't imagine a day of my life without her'."

Akiva blinked at Asher's sudden candor. "I see your point. I also see you're in a similar position as me." He dry-washed his hands again as he considered her words. "I suppose only time will tell, and by that point the decision will have made itself."

"Time is a wonderful healer, Commander," Asher replied, "sometimes even better than what the two hands of any doctor in the galaxy can do. Love is tough to advise on, but all I can say is, you need to start putting yourself first and move on from what's held you back all these years. It's going to take time, but, just cut the cake into pieces and take your time. You can eat one a day, or every couple of days, but it works."

"Cake." That suggestion rung a bell. "Amber did mention something about food. Maybe I should enlist Paul's help with learning to do that." He stopped abruptly, realizing he had dropped the name of one of his crushes. "Yeah, so..."

Asher smiled, Akiva's slip of the tongue didn't bother her at all, and she as a doctor was obligated to keep what was said to her in confidence to herself. She reassured Akiva by continuing to smile as she gave her response.

"Amber is a lucky girl if you're interested in her. When we're done, go and speak to the chef and get him to make her a cake. Try things with Amber, if they don't work, then try it with someone else. You don't know if you don't try, you may realise Amber is the one for you. If she is, then I expect an invite to the wedding, Commander." Asher said, reaching for her glass of hot chocolate again.

"You're right," Akiva admitted. "I just can't help but feel like a lecher for 'trying' things with Amber and Laena at the same time. Especially since I'm their executive officer... not to mention without confusing poor Biynah through it all." He caught his breath before it hastened into an anxiety attack. "Sorry. I know. Bite sizes."

Asher nodded sympathetically, it was hard to know what to do when you felt for two different people like Akiva did, and she had been there herself one time. Asher had denied herself the opportunity to make a move for either, because she feared rejection, and wasn't ready to accept who she was.

"Don't throw away the opportunities while they're there, I did, and I lost them forever. I'm, potentially at least, everyone's doctor on this ship so ethics tie me to being single or in a long distance relationship. Ethics don't matter to me, if I love someone, I'm going to tell them, and you should as well."

"Look at the Captain, she's about to marry her Yeoman, I don't think she's going to object to you being in a relationship with anyone on this ship who's lower ranked than you are. Just go for it." Asher responded, reassuringly.

"You're probably right." Akiva allowed himself a grin. "The captain does owe me one." After staring off for a minute, he clapped his hands and stood to his feet. "Thank you for your time, Doctor. I'm going to give it a shot and hope nobody gets hurt. That's better than doing nothing, where everybody loses."

Asher smiled, moved her drink out of the way and stood up off the table. This session had gone pretty well, and it had opened her eyes to her own issues, and Asher felt her own advice was giving her the courage she needed to face up to her own battles, battles she had fought for the past six or seven years, battles she wanted to win.

"It's okay, Commander." Asher said, standing at full height. "If you want to book regular appointments, then now would be a good time arrange a time and day suited to you so I can put you in the system in advance."

"Well, seeing as how Counselor Maera won't be back for a few weeks, I think that would be prudent." Akiva nodded his appreciation. "Until next time. Shalom."

"Alright," Asher said, waiting a few moments for her computer to load up again and bringing her schedule for the following Tuesday up. "How does each Tuesday at 10:30 sound? If not I can do Thursday at the same time instead, but other than that my options are pretty low until Counselor Maera gets back, or Counselor J as I call her. Counselor A is her pet name for me, as you probably guessed."

Akiva smiled at the nickname. "Tuesday morning with Counselor A it is."


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