Shore Leave: Business As Usual
Location: Ian's Quarters, USS Defiant
Charlotte heard the door chime from the other side of the metal barrier when she pushed the panel. She felt slightly awkward doing this kind of check-in, visiting an officer to check on their emotional health. It wasn't her strong suit. She tended to fluctuate between two ends of the spectrum. When she wasn't getting herself into trouble by blurting out her feelings, she was bottling them in a way she knew couldn't be healthy. Stopping by to check on the status of another wasn't something that her style really assisted with.
But she was a commanding officer, and her crew was her responsibility. And since she felt at least partly responsible for the situation that caused this emotional state, she felt a need to make sure he was doing fine.
Ian had been feeling restless, Moving back to his quarters had been a simple enough task. Some clothes, a few personal items, a holocube with a handful of pictures of him and Elias. It had taken him less than half an hour. But it had nevertheless taken a lot out of him. He was laying on his bed, fully clothed with his eyes closed, but he knew he wouldn't be getting to sleep anytime soon.
When he heard the chime, he got up and answered the door. He wasn't expecting visitors, but he did his best to straighten his disheveled clothes and hair anyway.
As the door opened, Charlotte smiled in greeting. "Good evening, Lieutenant. Mind if I come in for a few?"
Ian didn't want to be bothered with a guest, didn't need or want to try to entertain them. But she was the Captain. So he thought he should let her in.
"Sure come in, but don't they usually send the student to the principal's office?"
The woman shook her head with a soft laugh as she entered his quarters, making her way toward one of the seats. "I'm not here to give you detention if that's what you're worried about. I just wanted to check in on you, see how you're doing, find out if there's anything you might need."
"I appreciate it, ma'am. I'm not sure there is much you, or anyone can do. It's just going to take me some time to adjust to life without Elias. I don't know why I feel the way I do Akadians are usually much looser about such things than humans and most in the Federation. Perhaps I am adjusting too well," Ian replied.
"I don't want to in any way disparage the way your culture handles relationships, but in ours, the feeling of loss when a relationship ends often is a sign of how much the person meant to you, and how strong the bonds were. I think it's healthy for you to be feeling this way," the captain replied. "Have there been any new developments with these feelings?" She wasn't a counselor, but like many, she was sure he also wasn't actively seeking counseling. So she'd give it her best shot.
The diplomat replied. "I guess, the best way to describe what I'm feeling is numb. No pain. Exactly. More like emptiness."
"I'm familiar with the feeling," Charlotte replied, nodding. "It's a coping mechanism. Useful, for sure. It helps keep you functional. But it's...it's camouflage. It's hiding the damage underneath. And you've gotta comes to terms with that damage before it'll actually heal." She sighed, sitting back. "Or at least, that's the way it usually goes for us humans. If it's different for Akaidians, you might be on your own with this one."
"We tend to heal from such things as well. Unless we are bonded Then that's a different story, some have even died from the separation. Elias and I weren't. It's a ritual, a ceremony. I was considering asking him, but I don't think he was ready."
Charlotte considered the last comment for a moment. She wasn’t really sure how serious their relationship had been. Elias possibly would have viewed this as a major proposal, which may have come prematurely. Cultures mixing caused odd wrinkles like that. “Well, time to allow that healing then. What about the present? Any plans to take your mind off things? Diplomatic treaties to study? Cultures to brush up on? Giving yourself something to do might help the healing go faster.”
Ian stood to his feet and forced himself not to start pacing, his go-to behavior when he was nervous. "You're right ma'am. I know it. Time heals all wounds I believe is the Terran saying. "I've been doing some meditating actually and learning Vulcan so I can read some of the teachings of Surak in the original."
"Do you have any suggestions?"
The question caught her a little off guard. Suggestions? She hadn't prepared any. But she supposed she could provide some assistance. "I haven't read Surak myself. Really haven't read the human philosophers either. The field was...not exactly my cup of tea. But I think Surak should prove an interesting read for you. There's also non-work related options. Take advantage of getting some off-ship time at one of our next stops. Or spend some time in the crew lounge. Being around others may help dispel some loneliness."
"Or perhaps a call home?" Charlotte offered as another idea. "We're on the edge of comms range for a call that far. But if you had family back home, it might be nice to talk with them. I've never found that option very helpful, but it's worked for others, I hear."
Ian shook his head at the mention of a call home. "Things are a little tense there, so I'm not sure that's such a good idea. His gaze shifted to the viewscreen as he continued. "I do like your idea of getting away. How long before we get to our first destination? Is there going to be an official shoreleave?"
He shifted then to look at her fully. "Does the ship's lounge have booze?"
"No official shore leave, but a series of unofficial ones," Charlotte said. Essentially she was indulging the science department in what they'd consider to be shore leave: studying some weird planets. The rest of the crew would enjoy some reduced responsibilities in the meantime. They had a bit of time to kill before they arrived at their destination, after all. "And yes, our lounge is fully stocked with alcoholic beverages. As is the observation deck. Just make sure you're off duty," she replied with a teasing tone.
"Of course ma'am I would never..." his voice trailed off for several seconds until he put two and two together and determine she'd been, what the Terrans referred to as pulling his leg. "I will be good I promise."
"Good," she said with a smile. "Oh, by the way. The woman we rescued from the pod the other day is considering sticking around. She's a diplomat. You may want to pay her a visit."
"Thank you, ma'am," he replied sitting down in a chair next to her,"I had, heard we had a new crewmember. I'll stop by tomorrow and pay her a visit. I'd like to get to know her."
"I'm not sure if her decision to stay is permanent. I'm leaving that up to her. She's been through a lot. So a warm welcome would be ideal," the Captain replied. "Is there anything else you'd like to discuss while I'm here?"
The diplomat shook his head, "No ma'am, nothing at all now. Thanks for stopping by."