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Heart to Heart

Posted on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 7:54am by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: USS Vindex
Timeline: 2388

This was not going to be pleasant. It would not be fun. At least, not if previous experience was reliable. Akiva knew he had to do it anyway. Indeed, he had known it was coming ever since the counselor's transfer request had been approved.

He had stood outside Counselor Maera's quarters for five minutes before pressing the buzzer. "Just a moment," she replied.

Figured. He had been late, and then waited five additional minutes on top of that. Now she was making him stand outside even longer.

When the doors parted, the interior light from the room was eclipsed by an enormous hulk of a Klingon. Rather than defer to Akiva, the Klingon instead snorted. Menacingly. His scowl could have been chiseled from stone.

"Doqqu." Jaya's chiding voice floated from somewhere behind him. "Use your words, Doqqu."

"Commander," the Klingon named Doqqu said, his gravelly voice booming over Akiva and down the corridor. "You mind getting out of my way." Though it might have been phrased as a question, it clearly was not intended as one.

Akiva was taken aback, but tried not to let it show. He was determined not to be intimidated by a junior officer. Even if that junior officer had nearly a foot on him in height and the disposition of an angry tannin.

"Not at all, Ensign," Akiva said. Rather than back up, he took a step forward into Doqqu's personal space, suppressed a gulp in his throat, and turned to the side. "After you," he said amicably with his arm extended into the hall.

Doqqu scoffed, brushing against him likely more abruptly than was necessary as he walked away. Akiva watched him go and momentarily considered a formal reprimand. The Klingon Ensign was a full-framed large man. Giving him more space to pass by probably would've been the best choice in hindsight. Plus with several Security and Tactical officers assisting other vessels in their little flotilla, maintaining morale among the remaining security teams was more important than his ego. And, clearly, the ship's counselor was already handling his attitude problem.

"Welcome, Commander ben-Avram," Jaya said. She stood propped against the back of a sofa, leaning forward with her hands clasped between her legs, a look of delight on her grinning face. "I'm glad you could meet Ensign Doqqu. He's rather anti-social, so he doesn't make the social rounds in the ship's lounge like most of the crew."

"He's charming." Sarcasm dripped pretty heavily, at least for Akiva and his usual deadpan tone.

"We all have facades behind which we hide from the rest of the universe." Jaya's broad smile turned wan. She gave Akiva a sidelong glance as she walked around the sofa to the replicator on the wall. "Would you care for something to drink?"

"No." Akiva patted the sides of his legs, fingers spread. "I'd rather just get this over with, if that's all right."

Jaya smiled widened, though her lips were pressed together. "We're here to talk about you. That will only take as much time as you'd like."

"Good. I'm a little stressed with my new position and its duties, but I'm persevering. Project Golem is shaping up to be a success, which is very encouraging. There isn't much else going on in my life." Akiva was as direct as possible. He know better than to claim he was fine. Shrinks and therapists always jumped on that. Hopefully he covered everything that she wanted to discuss. Hopefully he didn't want to discuss his past. Home.

Jaya stared at him, thoughtfully considering everything he said. When he was finished, she let the silence linger on for a moment. He tried not to squirm under her kind, pensive gaze. ~Adonai, she's beautiful~ he thought, then immediately reprimanded himself. ~No she's not... it's just the pheromones and subconscious telepathic suggestion~

When she finally spoke, her question threw him off balance. "Why don't you sculpt anymore?" Her eyes gave off a knowing sparkle. Did she know what had went through his mind just then?

Akiva shrugged and tried not to wonder whether she could read his thoughts and took the out, if that's what the question actually was. "I don't know." That much was true.

"You should trying picking it up again once Biynah is activated," she suggested as she turned to the replicator. "Seyalian tea. Hot." Jaya closed her eyes and inhaled the aroma, her face radiating pure pleasure. "I love the simple things in life." She took a few short steps to a wingback chair that stood in stark contrast to the rest of the quarters' standard Starfleet furnishings and curled up like a child. "Stand there if you're more comfortable that way."

Akiva deliberated for a moment, but ultimately decided to sit opposite Jaya. "Why do you think I should take up sculpting again?"

"Because you're a builder, Akiva," she said softly. "You won't know peace save for when you build it."

"Technically sculpting requires the removal of material," Akiva replied with a lopsided grin. "You can't get far by adding to it."

"Addition by subtraction," Jaya mused in reply. "Sometimes the best gifts we give ourselves are in what we cull away."

Akiva clammed up tight. He saw where she was going with this line of conversation. Emotions he had firmly repressed for years now fought for release. How much of that was from Jaya's telepathic encouragement he couldn't tell. "I know, I know. 'You can't run away from what's inside. You have to let go of the past.' No disrespect intended to your profession, Counselor, but I've heard it all before."

"You're a pragmatist, Akiva. If you know what to do, then what's stopping you from doing it?" Jaya was gentle but firm.

"Because some broken things just can't be fixed!" He was on his feet, voice raised. "Sometimes life explodes into a thousand damnable pieces and you can't put them back together. Sometimes," his voice choked as he suppressed tears, "sometimes the fires of hell just burn and nothing you do will change it. You think and you reason and you pray and--charah be'leben!" He grabbed the back of his head with both hands and buried his chin in his chest, turning his hips to and fro. He wanted to look anywhere but toward Jaya. "Nothing changes! It's the same zai'n ba'ain no matter what you do."

He bit off his words before they turned into sobs. His chest heaved involuntarily as he tried to get himself back under control. Water filled his eyes, and he knuckled them until they dried. A hand caressed his shoulder and came to rest in the middle of his back. Another touched his arm at the elbow.

"When the universe takes something precious from us... or someone... it is not the universe which must change," Jaya whispered. "It is us."

"Don't you think I've tried?" Akiva croaked. "I dove into my work, even as an adolescent. No challenge was too great. No task was beneath me. I even left my home in pursuit of meaning and fulfillment." He all but swallowed his bottom lip. "All I can do is mask the pain. I'm no good to anyone otherwise."

"But don't you see," Jaya said slowly, kindness flowing from her voice, "that it is not masked at all. Everybody can see it, whether or not they know what it is. The chip on your shoulder weighs you down, Akiva, locking you in a paradoxical prison of anxiety and indifference. This is not how Omri would have wanted you to honor his memory."

Akiva turned to face Jaya at the mention of his brother's name. "Omri doesn't want anything because he is dead. What he would have wanted was to live to adulthood!"

"Is that what Biynah and Project Golem are really about?" Jaya cocked her head, eyes wide with pleading sympathy. "'Are you trying, in your own way, to resurrect the dead?"

Akiva's face hardened into a scowl. "This session is over," he spat. "Good day, Counselor."

Whatever imploring words Jaya called from behind him fell on deaf ears. Akiva stormed out of the counselor's quarters, nursing a familiar regret of opening up to anyone. The yeoman never saw him coming.


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