Natters of the Mind
Shore Leave: Business As Usual
Location: Niamh's Office
Niamh's office had changed somewhat from its standard configuration since she'd settled on the Defiant, much to the ire of the quartermaster. The centre presenting desk had been pushed off into a corner so that the entire room was in Niamh's gaze. Taking centre stage were two small black fabric sofas, each decorated with a teal colour arrangement of scatter pillows, that both faced a central coffee table adorned with small ornaments and a mirrored tray. It was still a work in progress but the Lieutenant was pleased.
Niamh sat relaxed on one of the sofa's whilst she waited for her last meeting of the day. She'd technically clocked off a few hours prior but had returned when it occurred to her that her meetings with the CO would likely be easier if they conducted them during their downtime. Their developing friendship would certainly benefit from a drink and a catch up away from the ever-present crew.
Despite being still in her uniform, she sat relaxed with a glass of red in her hand. Her feet tapped to the rhythm as the song Handlebars quietly played in the background. Niamh had stumbled across the song, and the band Flobots, back at the academy. Since then, Handlebars had been the chief counsellor's relaxation song. She hoped Charlotte would feel the same when she arrived.
Charlotte gave a sigh as she finally arrive at Niamh’s office. She’d been working practically all day, and getting a load off would be nice. A few minor crises, including an Engineer accidentally polarizing half of the shuttle bay, had drained her. Her uniform dress looked a little more disheveled than usual. Her hair likely would have if she didn’t keep it pulled back.
As the door opened, she was met with the sound of a bygone age. “It’s amazing how 250 year old music still manages to catch our ear isn’t it?” she said, deciding to flip the script and question her Counselor friend for a change.
Niamh smiled warmly at Charlottes arrival, “I’ve been vibing classical music recently,” Niamh said as she learnt forwards and grasped the small decanter of wine off the table, gesturing it towards Charlotte and the empty glass, “granted it’s not as refined as some of earths older pieces, but the passion behind the lyrics is inspiring”
"Refinement can come in many forms," the captain said, as she settled into the seat and offering her glass for Niamh to fill. "Speaking of which, I like what you've done with the place. It feels a bit removed from the rest of the ship. Which is nice."
Niamh smiled as she began filling the glass, “thank you, I wanted to create an escape for the crew when they come for a chat” the counsellor explained placing the decanter back on the table, “the aesthetic of the Defiant is nice enough but I find the white makes my office seem a little to clinical for laid back conversation. I want the crew to look forwards to our meetings, hopefully making my office more homely will lead to that”
“Besides,” Niamh said, leaning back into the sofa, “I spend that much time in her that it was either change it up, or go insane from the repetition,” she joked.
"Suppose I can't argue with that," the captain said, taking a sip from the wine glass. She got comfortable in the seat, lounging a bit more than she'd do on duty. "I do have to admit that the numbing repetition has its occasional benefits though. It's kept me sane the last few weeks."
Niamh nodded, taking a sip of her wine, "I hear you, when we're up the creek without a paddle there's definitely a certain level of comfort that can be pulled from routine. At least amidst the chaos we can keep ahold of what makes us who we are" the counsellor agreed.
"Now that said, it's not enough. Even with familiarity, the unknown variables can cause your stress levels to build over time, I'm impressed with your fortitude" Niamh said, hoping her brief segway towards the true meaning of their meeting hadn't been too jarring for Charlotte, "How have you been?"
Charlotte let out a sigh. "I've been fine. Trying to branch out with the crew a bit more. Still not being incredibly social, but I'm doing better. I think the weirdest new development has been Commander Bishop joining the crew."
"Hmmm, I'd heard about his arrival," Niamh said between sips, "How's that going so far? A new addition to the Command Team can be very disruptive in our circumstances"
"It's been good...but a little weird. Nate's an old friend. I served with him back on the Bradbury. When I heard about the situation with his last command, I started pulling strings to get him stationed here and spare him from being scapegoated," Charlotte said, sitting up a little. "The weird part though is that he used to be my superior. And he knew a version of me that feels a bit out of date now. It hasn't been bad or anything. It's just been a bit odd."
"I imagine that is quite an adjustment" Niamh replied, "It'll take some getting used too but I have no doubt you'll both ease into a new normal," she commented.
"Yeah, we'll get there," Charlotte replied. "What about you? You able to do anything outside of listening to all our problems? I've been informed by more than once counselor that it's important to maintain a work-life balance."
"It is, it's very important," Niamh agreed, a smirk forming, "it just so happens that my work is my life" she joked. Truth be told, she hadn't spent much time relaxing for a couple of weeks.
The captain made a face of faux-surprise. "What's this?! A doctor who doesn't practice what she preaches? Why I'd never heard of such a thing!" Dropping the facade she continued. "Seriously though, you've gotta take care of yourself too, you know."
"I know," Niamh accepted, "I'm hoping now I'm all caught up that'll have much less work that'll eat into my downtime, might even start propping myself up in the lounge every now and again" she suggested.
"I think that's a great idea," Charlotte replied. "Actually, there was something I wanted to talk you about. Regarding your duties on Defiant."
Niamh's expression grew somewhat more serious as she placed her drink on the coffee table and turned to face Charlotte with her full attention, "What have I done wrong?" the counsellor asked half-jokingly. She didn't want to jump to conclusions, but the blue shirt had seriously neglected her commitments when she went underground, she had been shocked to have gotten away with and expected that now was the moment she'd be called out for it.
"What?" Charlotte asked, briefly surprised by the question. "Oh. God, no I'm not about to lecture you or anything. Quite the opposite. You've taken your counseling duties more seriously than even some of the better counselors in the fleet. I'd say you're far more plugged into the crew than I am. And your interpersonal skills would make most ambassadors blush. I was wondering how you'd feel about a bit more formality in your role. I'd try not to drown you in additional work. But I'd actually appreciate your input as an advisor of sorts, particularly on morale duties or certain diplomatic situations."
Niamh's relief was visible only for a few moments before curiosity took it's place, "I'm listening, lord knows I'd be better placed to help the crew if I had other duties to occupy my mind" she said, "I could certainly use the distraction," she admitted.
"How would it work out? Would I remain as Chief or would I take on another role?" She asked, titles didn't bother her persay, but she wanted to know everything before accepting.
"As long as it worked for you, I figured you could remain Chief. We could tack on a secondary duty title. I'm flexible on what to call it. Crew Liason, Diplomatic Advisor, Captain's Sanity Guard?"
Niamh's lip jutted out as she mulled the possibility over, "I like Captain's Sanity Guard, but I'm already that with less flair" the counsellor joked, "I think some form of Advisor would suffice, maybe something more succinct? I'm happy to do it whatever the title though, I need out this office."
Charlotte nodded. "How about Mission Advisor? It's nice and nebulous. You can provide advice as needed and it doesn't give you any firm responsibilities to deal with, so you won't get bogged down."
Niamh beamed, "That sounds great!" she accepted, "All things considered though, don't worry about bogging me down from time to time, I enjoy my work," she added after a moments pause.
The Captain gave a broad smile. "I will do my best to avoid making you regret those words. I'll have to do a bit of prep work, but I think we should be ready to move forward in a day or so, if that works. It'll even give you a reason to hang out on the bridge more often."
Niamh's excitement was clear, "That's great, I had considered doing my bridge officer training at some point, I'm essentially at my peak within the counseling department," she admitted. "This way I can see if it's for me whilst coming at it from the point of view my role as counsellor offers me."
"Excellent!" Charlotte said, sitting up a little straighter. "Well, I'll have the ops team prep a station for you on the bridge. We can configure for your settings tomorrow, once they're finished."
"Fantastic! I can't wait to get a taste of how the other side lives," Niamh joked before her expression grew more sincere, "Thank you for this opportunity Char-Captain, it is greatly appreciated".
Charlotte simply smiled as she stood up. "The pleasure is all mine."