A Different Kind of Counselling
Episode 5: Better Angels
Location: Crew Mess, Deck 5
Timeline: MD1 - Lunch
Given that they had days ahead of them before reaching the Indomitable, Niamh had taken some liberties in the amount of time she had spent freshening up. The room she had been assigned too was nothing compared to Arcadia, but she drew comfort for the minimalistic space, a blank canvas seemed appropriate. Following Captain Reynolds advice, the counsellor had shed her Arcadia uniform and had replaced it with Defiant's regular duty in science blue. Once she felt more approachable, she began working her way through the manifest and formulating a list of people she believed she needed to touch base with over the next few days.
Thankfully, the list was smaller than she expected and consisted mostly of junior rates, those fresher to the pressures of Starfleet. Of course, there were outliers of more senior status, but their trauma would require something more significant than an uplifting conversation.
The crew's mess was typically reserved for the Enlisted and NCO's of Defiant, but Niamh had hoped to kill two birds with one stone. One of those she flagged up was the young Apprentice assigned to tactical named Jovani Carter. His P-file gave her little cause for concern, but his age and relative freshness to the fleet compelled Niamh to touch base just in case the young man had a tendency to bottle it up.
She grabbed herself a light meal consisting of scrambled egg and toasted soda bread, with a small glass of iced lemon tea to wash it down, before heading to the table occupied by Jovani.
"Don't stand on ceremony, Crewman," Niamh insisted as she took a seat, "I'm just here to eat some food and see how you're coping with your new role given the current circumstance," she'd never been anything less than upfront, "providing you're okay with that?"
Jovani looked up, somewhat surprised, his fork frozen halfway to his mouth. "Umm... sure.", he replied. Taking his bite he eyed her warily, waiting for her to speak, not at all sure where this was going.
Niamh noted Jovani's discomfort, "Great, I'm Lieutenant O'Donoghue, but you're welcome to call me Niamh" the counsellor informed the apprentice, as she picked up the salt shaker in between them, "This isn't formal, I'm not here to analyse you, I just wanted to touch base whilst we have a little down time" she told him as she finished seasoning her lunch.
"How are you finding everything so far? I understand the last few days have been more than most fast so fresh into their assignments" The blue shirt asked before tucking into a forkful of her eggs.
Setting his fork down on his plate of rice and peas, plantains, and curry goat Jovani leaned has large torso back in his chair and shrugged as he folded his arms across his chest. "It certainly hasn't been boring. First time in a combat situation. Wasn't as fun as it looks in vids...", he replied.
"It never is," Niamh responded, "It all becomes a little less abstract when it's live fire. You did well though, far beyond what everyone would have expected" the counsellor praised, "please, relax" she insisted, gesturing to the youth's crossed arms, "I'm not here as your superior officer, I'm just counsellor, looking to have a light lunch with a colleague", an overly simplified account of what was going on, but it held some truth nonetheless.
Jovani let his arms fall, and pulled his plate back towards him, figuring he might as well finish eating. "Alright, fair enough. And thank you, for the compliment. How are you settling in?", he asked as he picked up another fork full of his food.
"It's not Arcadia, but there's a stability to this crew that I'm finding very comforting," the counsellor admitted easily, "How about you?" she asked casually, taking a sip of her drink.
Taking another bite of his food Jovani took a moment to chew and think before responding. "Well enough. The first assignment out of the STSA, wondering if I made the right choice, in joining, and in career path, wondering how the hell I got wrapped up in all the craziness that's going on, but other than that, it's an alright place to be. Keeps me on my toes at least." he said.
"Doubt in the face of adversity is normal, not a single person on this ship signed up with the expectation of combat," Niamh explained, intending to provide assurance, "Starfleet is a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada, for the most part, we help. That's what we're doing now, the stakes are high, but when this is finished you'll likely yearn for the action after ship patrols begin to wear thin" she joked, taking the last bite of her lunch.
"There has been plenty of times throughout my career where I questioned my commitment. I once filled out the resignation forms, but in the end meals like the one we are sharing always manages to keep me working" the counsellor shared, not at all feeling guilty upon her admission.
Jovani had to give the counsellor a raised eyebrow on that one. "Resignation, huh?", he asked.
"Yes, and I'll probably almost resign a few more times over the years" the blue shirt admitted easily, "everybody doubts the choices they make throughout their lives," she shrugged, "especially when they assign themselves to a life of unpredictability"
Jovani chuckled at that, "Well, you certainly make all this seem incredibly profound.", he said, exhibiting an uncommon intellectual streak most that knew him would be surprised by. He wasn't stupid, by any means, but he was a man of few words, and still quite immature in some ways. "I guess I'll probably come around to that way of thinking, eventually. But for now, I'm just along for the ride.", he added.
"But, in one way you are at least a little bit right, doc. I've actually been thinking about taking up some training in helm lately, so maybe I am at least doubting the choice of tactical as a full-time career.", he finished, looking over at her.
Niamh smiled, "You couldn't be in a more perfect position to carry that transfer out. I've heard of officers transfering departments, but that's very rare" she shared, "I could assist you with filing the application if it's something you decide to proceed with," the blue shirt offered sincerely. She'd always imagined she'd transfer over to sciences once the counselling gig took too much of a toll on her.
"Really? Thanks!", Jovani replied with an almost childlike grin on his face. He was 19 going on 12 some days, and it bugged him to no end at times.
"You're more than welcome," Niamh replied happily, " Lieutenant Niamh O'Donoghue, it's a pleasure to meet you" she introduced, realizing she hadn't formally introduced herself throughout the entirety of their conversation.
"Jovani Carter.", Jovani replied, holding his own hand out, practically engulfing her much smaller one as they shook. "And likewise.", he added with a genuine smile.
"Fantastic," the counsellor said as she placed her cup onto the tray, "Now it's time for me to leave, thank you for the company, Crewman," she said with gratitude as she rose from her seat.
Jovani stood as well, smiling, "You're welcome, ma'am. Have a good day!", he said, and watched her leave.