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Breaking the Habit

Posted on Wed Jul 19th, 2017 @ 2:16am by Ensign Ahira Kasamoto
Edited on on Wed Jul 19th, 2017 @ 4:23am

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: Counselor's Office
Timeline: MD 99; 1000

The hardest part about going on leave was coming back and getting into the swing of things. When Jaya returned to her office, though it was exactly as she had left it, there was still no life to it. Perhaps it needed a change, just as she had changed.

New art. New furnishings. Something.

But all of that would have to wait. Jaya had left her regular sessions in the hands of the former CMO. It appeared that the current CMO was more concerned with physical ailments, and so her patients had slipped through the cracks.

Jaya intended to make this right. And first on her docket was Ensign Kasamoto.

=/\= "Counselor Maera to Ensign Kasamoto. I'm ready to begin your next session if you are."=/\=

Normally she would check in on someone in person, but in the Intel infiltrator's case, she felt a light approach was best. She didn't want to scare him off.

Ahira was relaxing, which for him meant he was in the ship's gym, working out. He was doing some leg presses, pushing himself to do just one more set, when his comm badge went off.

He stopped what he was doing sat up and wiped his face with his shirt, before answering./=\Ahira here, what can I do for you/=\

=/\="I am ready to begin your next session if you are."=/\= Jaya kept her voice pleasant, expectant, and not frustrated as she repeated herself. =/\="Can you meet me in my office, or shall I come to you?"=/\=

Ahira let out a long, slow breath, =/\=I'm rather sweaty,.=/\= he replied,=/\=I'm working out, but give me thirty minutes and I'll meet you in your office.=/\=

He was guarded, unsure of how much he wanted to share with the woman, but he knew he didn't have much choice in the matter, and who knew, maybe she could really help him.

He stood to his feet and walked into the locker room and took a quick sonic shower, then made his way to the Counselor's office.

On most days, Jaya would feel a tinge or two of annoyance for being delayed, but 30 minutes did allow her to switch out the wall. New furnishings would require a bit more time, of course. By the time Ahira made it to her office, though, she was putting the finishing touches on a requisition order.

Now dressed in a clean and freshly replicated uniform, he pressed the chime wearing a smile that was mostly manufactured but at least reached his eyes.

Jaya opened the door with a manual press.

"Thank you for coming." She stepped back to guide him into the room. "Take a seat anywhere. How have you been these past few weeks?"

The hybrid officer moved to the loveseat and lowered himself onto it. "I've been okay," he replied, with little conviction.

"Okay," Jaya repeated as if sampling the word. "That's an interesting human idiom, especially since it's caught on throughout the Federation. Do you know its origin?" Jaya smiled, though didn't wait for Ahira to respond. "An ancient statesman from Earth used it to get elected. It means 'all is correct,' which is more of a statement of truth rather than a condition."

Jaya paused again to stare deeply into Ahira in order to measure his internal response to her next question.

"How are you really, Ahira?"

"Really?" he asked looking at her, "I'm really fit for duty, work is important to me it's keeping me sane and focused. But, I'm still having nightmares, still dealing with things."

Jaya gave a reassuring smile. "Nightmares fade. It's the waking troubles that stick around. Work is a fine distraction, so long as it's there." She paused long enough to let her voice fall still, then continued. "I know your past haunts you, but what is there today which pulls you back to it?"

"I'm trusting that what I tell you is going to remain confidential. I was recently on a mission that required me to get close to a person. I not only wound up betraying their trust, but I did more than that. I had to kill them."

He paused, taking a sip of his drink,"Oh, don't get me wrong, it was all in the line of duty. Sanctioned, for the most part, but that doesn't make it easier. I believe that folks in your line of work call that a triggering event."

Jaya shook her head nigh imperceptibly. "Not quite. What you experienced was a traumatic event. On Seyalia... Delta IV... our common empathy links us together in intimate ways that few species can understand, so we've never known wars or violent crime."

She took a breath to reorient herself. Ahira was cooperative enough, but still a tough nut to crack.

"A triggering event is something which breaches a threshold or barrier which prevented another event from occurring. In the case of your nightmares, Ahira, they are the sign of your past trauma being triggered by a present cause."

At that, she stood to her feet. Ahira was an intelligent man and would need time to think this part through rather than being told to do so.

"Would you like some refreshments?"

His left brow rose slightly at her remark, "Sure," he said, "how about some butter tea?"

Jaya nodded without a word and went to the replicator.

"Interesting choice," she said as she watched it materialize. "And I don't recall you having it last time."

She handed Ahira his cup and then sat down without one herself. Though her stare turned probing, she said nothing. The moment of silence as Ahira accepted his drink turned to two. Jaya merely sat there, fully content to maintain quiet observation while Ahira drank.

He endured the silence for as long as he could before responding, "Do you know what it's like to kill someone you've slept with, some you pretended to love, someone you actually grew to care about on some level?"

At last. Jaya could feel the dam burst inside Ahira. Now she just needed to stay out of the way. Knowing to say and do as little a possible, she merely shook her head. A short burst of sympathy between them wouldn't hurt, though. Her eyes softened in a look of solace.

"It was supposed to be so simple. Pretend to go rogue, someone even Thirty-One wouldn't touch, get recruited, gather Intel and get out. But they lied to me, they fucking lied to me. It wasn't that simple, it's never that simple and I'm not an assassin. Not until I was forced to become one."

"Your profile says you're an infiltrator," Jaya said, "with a history that indicates an underworld affiliation. There's nothing about combat missions in it."

Nor should there be. Jaya did not know much about Section 31, other than it was included on a watch-list of topics for counselors to note and take seriously. It was also one of the few exceptions to the rule of patient confidentiality.

Jaya shifted in her seat. She would not breach trust with Ahira unless absolutely necessary, but the analytical part of her mind could not forget the fact that it may become required of her.

"Taking another life is something that should only be done as a last resort, and willingly. I am so sorry that you were forced to do so against your will. That must have been very devastating."

~Little wonder he feels so out of control~ she thought. ~Control was violently ripped away from him~

"And do you still feel as though you are in that place of having no choice?"

"I don't usually go on combat missions," Ahira said, "and this one wasn't supposed to be either. As to being in a place where I don't have a choice? No, I don't think that's the case exactly. I think it's more a matter of not knowing my next step, not knowing what I should choose."

"Despite everything, you've remained within Starfleet Intelligence," Jaya noted. "Did you make that choice, or was it another choice that was made for you?"

"That choice I made, it's either that or going back to the life I used to lead, and I'm not going to do that."

Jaya pressed her lips together in thought. "Ahira, it seems like the decision to remain with Starfleet was more of a consequence of your previous choice than it was a choice in itself. Not going back to your old life means you stay with Starfleet. That means if a better option comes along, you will be struck by the choice of whether to take it."

She folded her hands together in a gesture of gentle persuasion.

"Ahira, you must find your reason to stay within Starfleet; otherwise your decision to simply run from your past may yield an undesirable consequence. We encounter situations and powers out here that are as bad as your adolescent past, or perhaps even worse. 'Out of the frying pan and into the fire' is an apt Terran idiom."

~To say nothing of Section 31~ Jaya clamped down on that thought lest she betray it.

"You're right," Ahira replied. "What I had to deal with was bad, but others had it worse, have it worse. We are going to find situations and powers that are worse. That's why I joined to do something about those situations, to help. But it seems that Starfleet or at least some element in it is part of the problem, not the solution and I don't know how to deal with it."

Jaya smiled. "We cannot change the galaxy, but we can be ourselves. And, in so doing, we contribute to the greater change that we want to see. What can you do in your small and limited way to contribute to a better world where others don't suffer as you did?"

She gave his hand an affirmative squeeze. "Don't think to answer now. Just something to dwell on." When she let his hand go, she felt a cold apprehension leave her.

"I think we've covered enough ground for now. Thank you so much for meeting with me again on short notice. Now that I'm back on board, please don't hesitate to contact me if you find yourself faced with more questions... or, even scarier, answers to them."

"Okay," he said as he stood to his feet, "and thanks." He sat the team down and turned to leave, "Maybe we can do this once a week?"

"That would be best, I think." Jaya folded her hands over her lap as she stood up. "But I am available throughout the week if you find yourself struggling to move forward."

"Thank you, Counselor," he said as he rose to his feet. Does Thursday afternoon about this time work for you?"

Jaya made an agreeable nod. "I'll let you know if anything changes."

Before Ahira could fully exit, Jaya laid a sudden but gentle hand on his shoulder.

"Ahira." Her voice carried an empathic influence upon his nervous system, a much lighter touch than the mind-melds she had attempted in the past. Through it she projected peace and a calm to his synapses and the fibrous neural network stretched throughout his body.

"Peace can be found in the land of the living."

They shared a lingering look of understanding before nodding to one another.

As Ahira left, Jaya let the doors close with a swishing finality. She hugged herself deeply, momentarily spent from the empathic exertion. Hopefully it would do the man some good.


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