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Catching Up Over A Cup of Tea

Posted on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 @ 10:18pm by Captain Claudia Ainscow

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: Counsellor Maera's office
Timeline: Mission Day 100; 09:00

Claudia had taken up Jaya's offer of an appointment and she'd made her way down to Jaya's office for their next session wondering what the result of it would be. She had an idea what Jaya wanted to discuss with her - but Claudia remembered she had an appointment with her a few months ago and maybe it was a follow up to that.

After arriving outside Claudia pressed the chime and waited patiently.

In the short time since Jaya had returned, she had renovated her office--between appointments, of course. She will maintained her customary sofa, but she had also gathered assorted mats, anatomic chairs (the Ops personnel referred to them as "bean bags"), and even a quiet water fixture in the corner.

When the door chimed, Jaya called out, "Enter!"

Claudia entered the room and made her way to the nearest chair. Sitting down at it and placing her hands on each knee she smiled at the counsellor - truth be told she was looking forward to the session and wished she'd booked one earlier.

"How are you this morning Counsellor?" Claudia asked.

Jaya beamed a brilliant grin toward Claudia. "Better than ever, Captain. Marriage is turning out to be better than I had ever dreamed. And you?"

She shuffled over to the replicator to get the same drink that she had offered Claudia during that last visit all those months ago -- Seyalian tea.

"I'm glad to hear it. I'm doing well too thanks - marriage is going well so far and I'm glad I could finally give my vows to Rebecca in such a beautiful place. If you wouldn't mind could you get me one of those drinks that we had last time? I can't remember what it was called but it was delicious" Claudia replied.

Jaya handed Claudia a steaming cup. "Seyalian tea? I thought as much." She smiled at Claudia before seating herself on the nearest floor cushion with her feet tucked beneath her. The aroma from the tea arrested her senses, forcing her eyes closed while her nose captured the captivating scent.

"Mmm. The smell of this tea always takes me back to childhood, to days of innocence in the Deltan creches." Jaya opened her eyes to smile at Claudia once more. "Children are kept away from the general public until they've... 'matured' enough to enter the world and be part of it as an adult."

Jaya took a small sip and gasped at the heat before setting it down.

"Bearing children seems to be more celebrated in human culture." Jaya turned coy. "Human mothers are said to even display a greater measure of joy and beauty at the onset of pregnancy--a 'glow' even."

As she picked up her tea for another cautious sip, Jaya gave Claudia a sportive, knowing look that all but demanded an admission of her suspicions.

Claudia embraced the cup and savoured its warmth before taking a couple of long and slow sips. With Jaya clearly knowing what her secret was Claudia decided to open up to the counsellor about her pregnancy. It was going to become knowledge of the crew at some point anyway - although up to know very few people knew about it. Claudia wanted to be sure she could carry the baby to full term before telling anyone.

"Your suspicions are correct Counsellor. I'm about a month along now" Claudia replied.

"How wonderful!" Jaya set her cup down so fast she nearly dropped her tea. Her hands slammed together in a cacophony of clapping. "Tell me everything," she said. All professional demeanor abandoned her as she sidled up next to Claudia with her bean bag chair like a long-lost girlfriend. "Do you know the gender yet? Or the name? What does Rebecca think?"

Claudia smiled. "Well...we chose to have a baby together because we felt it was the right time. As for gender we don't know yet but we have a couple of names in mind. I really like Julia or Megan for a girl and James for a boy - Rebecca has suggested Anthony after her father so that's being considered as well. Becky's just as excited as I am though - she can't wait for the baby to arrive. Only 8 months to go now"

After patiently waiting for Claudia to calmly answer her questions, Jaya squealed with glee. "Oh, Claudia! I am so excited for you!" She threw her arms around Claudia's shoulders and squeezed her. Her last burst of excitement finally spent itself, allowing her to resume the characteristic Deltan equanimity.

"Has Grace said anything?" Jaya became the very picture of solemn sympathy. "I would be more than happy to speak with her if she's having any questions."

Claudia shook her head. So far Grace had been reasonably quiet about the whole thing although Claudia wasn't sure why - it was an offer worth considering.

"That...might be a good idea. Grace hasn't said anything lately - no enthusiasm or anything. I'm not sure whether she feels upset about the idea or she's just not saying anything about it" Claudia replied.

Jaya gave a slow, understanding nod. "New developments can be difficult to process, especially life-changing ones that we don't see coming." She turned her head to one side. "What thought have you given to how this may change other aspects of your life?"

Claudia spoke. "A lot. I know towards the latter part of my pregnancy I won't be able to command the ship on a day to day basis like I do now. When I was about seven months pregnant with Grace I went on maternity leave for 6 months but I remained on the ship. At least this time around Rebecca can help me raise the baby - so that's not so much of a problem. I'm just worried about Grace and how she actually feels about it"

"I'll schedule ongoing sessions with her," Jaya said with reassurance. "Speaking of Rebecca, though, how is she holding up with all of this? Who does she have to support her--other than yourself, of course?"

"I think that might be necessary. I'm just a bit worried about Grace at the moment - maybe she just misses her friend Elsie" Claudia began.

Claudia paused to take a sip of her tea before continuing. So far at least the session was proving to be fruitful and allowed her to vent how she was feeling and release some of the weight from her shoulders.

"Rebecca has her friends. One that stands out is Nealey Snowdon who has been her best friend since she came on board - I know you've heard a lot about her but she's really changed. I'm so proud of how far Nealey has come since joining the ship and Rebecca has spoken very fondly of her for all that time...even after you know what happened" Claudia concluded.

Jaya nodded. She knew all too well the toll that the mutiny had left on Nealey--she had witnessed Saalkan's mental rape of her.

"I've seen her take great strides in her recovery," Jaya said. She finished her tea and set aside the empty cup. "So." Jaya didn't look away from her teacup until she said what needed to be asked. "Have you considered the long-term consequences of building a larger family?" Her eyes drifted upward to meet Claudia's. "A quiet life away from a starship has seduced many a family-minded officer."

Claudia shrugged. "At this stage I think staying here with Grace and the new baby will be doable but in the long term we'll have to wait and see what happens. I just want to give it a try and see how it works out first."

"Of course." Jaya covered any doubt or hesitation on her part with a bright smile. "I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us all."
She thought of Storr and tittered to herself. "It certainly is good that we're all doing so well these past months. The crew..." Jaya shook her empty cup back to the replicator for dematerialization. When she turned back to Claudia, her face was brighter, though her eyes remained haunted.

"The crew is doing much better."

"I'm glad to hear it. It's been a rough three months and it's nice to finally have some stability. The crew were pleased to hear of your marriage to Mr Garlake and the party held in your honour last night was well attended. I was thinking of finding someone to defer the task of organising some social nights for the crew a couple of times a week. It might help keep the morale up" Claudia responded.

Jaya tapped her chin. "That might not be a bad idea, Claudia, though you might consider an informal morale committee for something that ambitious."

Claudia nodded. "Seeing as it's your suggestion...why don't you take up a seat on the morale committee? I'm not sure who to have on it - maybe a nominated member of each department?"

"Me?" Jaya chuckled with surprise. "I suppose that's within my purview as counselor. Would Rebecca be interested? As your yeoman, she would be a natural liaison to the command office."

Claudia again nodded in agreement before taking another sip of her tea. She would have to remember what it was called for the next time she wanted a cup outside one of her sessions with Jaya. Next time she planned to bring some home made cakes along.

"I think that's a good idea - I'll ask her later and see what she says. Maybe we could open it up to junior officers in each department to give them an opportunity to sit at the top table...or rather the observation lounge table?" Claudia replied.

Jaya nodded. "Or even enlisted crewmembers."

"I think that's a good idea. Maybe we should send all of the department heads a message and ask them to ask for a volunteer to put themselves forward for the morale committee. I think a mix of old and new crewmembers would be a nice balance" Claudia suggested.

"Wonderful," Jaya said with a clap of her hands. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Claudia smiled. "Good. I think it's about time we started to have something like that where we can get a wide range of ideas and where all departments are represented at higher and lower levels too. At least this time we can get on with it because won't have to ask for 'the captain's approval' because we already have it. I think it might be a good idea to have an unofficial morale officer too - any suggestions?"

Jaya grimaced. "There is one person who comes to mind, but I don't know..."

"It depends who you're thinking Jaya. I was thinking about Paul Foster mysef - but it's worth thinking of a few candidates before we ask them if they want to do it. It's good to have a few choices" Claudia responded.

"Yes, I like your suggestion much better," Jaya said quickly. "Let's make it Paul."

Claudia smiled. "I'll go and speak to him after we're done here or at lunchtime and see what he says. He just seems like a good choice seeing as he gets to see most of the crew on a day to day basis. I'm up on the bridge or in my ready room so I don't get to see them as much as he does. Funnily enough he held a similar role on the Endurance right up until he left to come here"

"That sounds like a perfect fit," Jaya said with relief. "I was going to suggest the new shuttlebay manager, as he seems to be getting around quite a bit. Morale officer might be a good way to channel for good, but I think Paul is more than ideal." Jaya rolled her eyes. "If nothing else, it will give me some time to make progress with the lieutenant. He still won't agree to a session."

"You can always get the Chief Medical Officer to order him to attend a session. I've already heard something about an incident which occurred in sickbay concerning our Shuttlebay Manager - I'm not sure whether you'll have heard about it or not was a bit concerning" Claudia responded.

"True," Jaya said, "but that's my last resort. People forced into counseling are generally the least cooperative. Give me some time to win him over first." She sighed for a moment. "Well, Captain, it was really great to catch up with you. I feel like we accomplished a lot today."

Claudia nodded. "If you're sure. Likewise - I think it went well. Would you like me to arrange another session now or at a later time? I'm sure Miss Fu...Rebecca...can sort something out if I'm not available. She's very insistent on me attending these sessions"

"Good girl." Jaya offered a giggle before standing up and walking Claudia toward the door. "I'm glad there's someone willing to meet with me."

Claudia smiled. "Well - thank you for the tea and the lovely chat. I really appreciate you being there for me and being so eager to have these sessons. I'll get Rebecca to organise an appointment with you whenever suits. Until then - take care"

Claudia then left the counsellor's office and went back to her duties. It was going to be a good day - or at least she hoped.


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