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A Social Call

Posted on Tuesday November 26th, 2019 @ 12:51pm by Lieutenant Commander Kanaka Shakura & Lieutenant Canaan Serine & Commodore Gregory Paladin

Mission: Shakedown Cruise
Location: U.S.S. Poseidon; Officers' Lounge, Deck 3
Timeline: Day 002 - 1400 Hours
Tags: Post-Departure, Post-Fighter Incident

[ON]

The Poseidon was now fully underway, having performed a successful shakedown run and now making it's way to Starbase 47 in order to receive the critical medical supplies for Cardassian Space, as well as more crew. Those already on board were hard at work, starting to get to grips with the hum and drum of the Poseidon's operational rhythm. Kanaka had already gotten busy doing regular rounds of the decks when she wasn't required in the Counselling offices, getting to know the crew and quietly observe them in their work and social spaces. This was her element, and she was beginning to really enjoy herself again.

Now that everyone was starting to properly settle in, the Chief Counsellor thought it was time to have that coffee which she had promised the Chief Science Officer after their first encounter, which had been a bit tense due to what the young Lieutenant Serine admitted was a lack of trust in the Counsellor's judgment of his character. So this was an attempt to remedy that mistrust, for the two to get a chance to know each other socially, in the hopes that he could trust her more professionally.

Sticking her head into the Officers' Lounge and seeing how quiet it was, she was glad she had arranged for them to meet now. Checking the time on her PADD, Canaan was likely not to be too far behind. Sitting herself comfortably by one of the view-ports, she waited patiently for her social call, looking out into the stars as she waited.

Canaan arrived not long after the Counsellor seated herself. He'd finished reading a status update on an experiment the exozoology division was proposing involving a Cardassian Vole and Klingon Targ. The test sounded interesting in-of-itself; however, the division was attempting to validate the need for live specimens rather than using the holo system. Canaan highlighted this section and made a note to follow-up with Chief Payam in the morning to discuss the matter further.

Deactivating the PaDD, Canaan searched the lounge for Shakura, finding her near the viewports. Canaan rolled either shoulder, taking a deep breath before approaching.

"Good afternoon, Counsellor." He greeted her softly, not wanting to startle.

Kana turned to face Canaan as he approached, her dark eyes flickering to life and a warm smile on her face. She stood to greet him, "Ah, Lieutenant! I'm glad that you could make the time to see me. Since this is time for us to get to know each other, you can call me Kana, if I may call you Canaan?"

She started to make her way over towards the replicator. "Can I get you anything to drink?"

Canaan nodded, "Yes, thank you!" Instead of taking the seat opposite of where Kana was previously seated, he occupied the chair directly beside. "An iced coffee with caramel drizzle and sweet vanilla cream, please." He allowed himself one of these beverages per day as a sweet treat, knowing that his workout regiment was more than sufficient to work off the empty calories. "And of course, feel free." He replied, pleased with the informality of using their first names.

"You looked deep in thought," Canaan noted, gesturing to the viewport and the spectacular view of the warp field beyond. "Almost a million light-years away." He pointed out with a thoughtful gaze toward the Counsellor.

The Chief Counsellor delighted in Canaan's decision to take the seat next to her rather than across; he seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about this little social call she had organized. "I must say your order sounds quite delightful. I think I may have to indulge in it myself!" She laughed as she reached the replicator. Giving the command, the replicator produced two tall glasses of iced coffee with caramel drizzle and sweet vanilla cream on a tray. Kana had also taken the liberty of adding in a small brownie for them to share.

Returning to the table, she placed the tray down and returned to her seat, turning slightly to now face Canaan. As she got herself comfortable, he made his note on her staring into space while she waited, to which she chuckled and responded, "Aren't we always a million light-years away?"

Crossing her legs and passing one of the iced coffees to Canaan, she then took her own. "I like to take these quiet moments to reflect on a lot of things. The past few days have been busy, as is any shakedown, but it looks as though everyone is already starting to get into the rhythm of things."

"I suppose so," Canaan agreed. "That's why I enjoy what I do so much... it's a literal part of my essential duties." He took a sip from the glass, savoring the mild bitterness of the iced-coffee, mixed with the sweetness of the vanilla and caramel. He always found the beverage quite refreshing.

Nodding, Canaan leaned back in the chair, lifting a leg and placing it on the empty chair opposite of Kana. "It's probably like this every time a ship leaves the dock, right? The Gemini didn't return to port for the entirety of its two-year mission. We were very rarely visited on Arach-VI, so I've no real basis for comparison." He admitted candidly.

The Chief Counsellor took her first sip from the tall glass, enjoying the sweetness of the caramel and the vanilla. She didn't have many sweet things often, but this being the odd occasion, it wouldn't hurt. She discreetly licked the cream that had planted itself on her upper lip as she listened to Canaan share his thoughts. "Oh yes, departure is always an exciting time. Even if you know your mission parameters, the idea of seeing somewhere new for the first time always leaves an air of excitement hanging in the air, even for the most seasoned of officers. I still remember my first shakedown on the U.S.S. Maverick; it was as if a huge weight just fell off my chest. I was finally flying away."

"When I was young and first joined Starfleet, the idea of being a million light-years away sounded very appealing. The adventure and the excitement was one thing, but what actually sold it to me was the idea of going to these far-flung parts of the cosmos to learn and to help others. I learned from a very young age that there was, unfortunately, a lot of bad in the universe, but I also believe there's a lot of good, and I like to think we play our part in that good."

She paused for a moment to enjoy more of her iced coffee, before using a fork from the tray to break the brownie in two, pushing one half to Canaan. "Was it difficult, being so detached from everything on Arach-VI?"

He listened intently to Kana, identifying closely with the presence of good and evil throughout the cosmos. The universe, however, seemed to strike a natural balance between the two, finding a way to right itself when the pendulum swung too far in either direction. Canaan had witnessed his fair share, especially the latter of the two on Arach-VI. He'd never seen such wanton evil as on that planet. It's innate ability to inflict pure unbridled terror chilled his soul.

"Uh... I-it was." He said with a weary honesty and slow nod of the head, willing the flashes of memory to subside. Canaan offered Kana a weak smile, "We only had each other, seven alone on a vast planet of unknowns. Isolated hardly begins to describe the experience." After the expedition team was consumed, replaced with the evil beings who assumed their form, Canaan truly was alone. It was this, along with the physical and psychological torture he'd endured on the planet, that was the source of the PTSD that riddled his life with paranoia and sleepless nights.

Canaan drummed his fingers against the metal surface of the tabletop. "Have you ever experienced an alone so great, it had you questioning things?" He asked, candidly.

Kana could sense the deeper feelings of unease within Canaan as he described his experience on Arach-VI. His weak smile and finger-drumming also gave the Chief Counsellor a sense that whatever it was made him very uncomfortable. It gave her the strong impression that something must have happened there that caused the Chief Science Officer a great deal of discomfort. "Now's not the time to go rooting too deep into sensitive subjects." She thought. This was, after all, meant to be a leisurely experience compared to the more sterile atmosphere of a counselling session.

Even so this also proved an opportune time to hopefully gain his confidence. Moreover, she found herself forming the beginnings of a bond.

"I have." She responded, her eyes looking directly into his with a reassuring gaze. "I was a young girl when the Jem'Hadar invaded Betazed. Those initial ten hours were the longest of my life. My parents were in Rixx at the time attending some state function, I was at home; everything was peaceful until the fire started raining down. I hid myself away, and that entire time I kept my eyes tightly shut. I couldn't understand what was happening, or why they were doing what they did. Until then, I didn't think sentient creatures were capable of such evil..."

This was a story she had shared before, but only with few people. Even though she was much older now and had come to terms with it, it was still a very sensitive experience, though she remained composed as she told it. Sometimes, showing a bit of sensitivity was necessary, at the right moments.

Her eyes did not waver from Canaan's as she continued. "When my parents eventually found me, my father was shell-shocked. The cheerful and loving man I knew torn away; even after the Federation managed to liberate the planet and normalcy eventually returned, our family was never the same after that. He was so fundamental to me as a child - he cared for me while mother was away on her diplomatic functions - that the rest of my childhood saw me looking more after him than the other way around. You can't really prepare a child for something like that; you end up learning the hard way."

She paused for a moment, as if stopping in thought, before developing a small smile. "Those years are what solidified in me my want to help and care for others. I was inspired by the bravery of the Federation and my own people in those darkest of hours, and I knew then and there that Starfleet is where I ought to be. My father always used to tell me that the Four Deities had plans for me; I like to think he was right."

Now stopping so she could enjoy more of her iced coffee, she seemed to perk up once again. "When I got to Starfleet Academy, I felt very alone at first, but I quickly got into my stride once we started learning. I also indulged in quite a few of the extra-curricular activities: I dabbled in a number of things. I learned to play the violin, I took up amateur wrestling and mixed martial arts, so much more. It took a lot to get there, but it gave me a new lease on life, and I like to think that's the same for a lot of other people too."

"How about you Canaan," she concluded, feeling she had shared enough for now. "What brought you to Starfleet?"

Canaan remained quiet while Kana spoke, engrossed in the story about her childhood experience with the Dominion War, her fear and sense of loss at the time, the good that bloomed from tragedy. Everyone involved in the war, directly or not, was affected in some way or another by the trauma inflicted. Canaan may have grown up on the utopia of Earth, but that didn't mean his family and those around him didn't experience the adverse effects of the war.

Canaan appreciated Kana's thoughtful insight and personal reflections, finding them riveting while lending perspective. He was humbled by her resilience and sense of determination to grow beyond the experience. The war hadn't hindered, yet fuelled her desires, putting the Lieutenant Commander down a path of connecting with people in a very intimate manner.

Taking another sip of his coffee, Canaan responded thoughtfully. "Mostly for the challenge of it all, I think." His brow furrowed as he reflected on those reasons in his youth. "It seemed the most direct path to satisfying my scientific curiosity." He paused briefly to offer a friendly smile to a passing Ensign before continuing. "I was lucky enough to attend several college-level science courses in secondary school. The courses centred around the natural sciences and biology; I enjoyed them very much. My grades were enough to warrant the attention of the Commandant, who insisted my parents have me attend the Starfleet Academy Preparatory School in Paris." Canaan shrugged, "So I did. My parents were incredibly proud of my academic achievements and pushed me often to excel, they both being scientists themselves," he clarified. "After graduating from the prep-school, the Academy was the natural path of least resistance."

He reached forward to pluck a bite of brownie from the plate, popping the morsel into his mouth with a playful smile. "So the Captain plays the guitar, and you play the violin. We may yet have the start of a band." He joked, trying to picture the docile Counsellor donning a wrestlers singlet and leaping from the top rope of the sparring ring. No, she undoubtedly wrestled the traditional style of Greco-Roman. "Wrestling though? That one is a bit of a surprise if I can be so bold." His tone of voice somehow urging Kana to elaborate on how she became involved in the sport, and the passion for it that followed.

Kana enjoyed her own half of the brownie as Canaan explained to her what brought him to Starfleet, being careful not to let a single crumb find it's way on to her uniform. His life back on Earth sounded like it had a sense of order and directness to it that she had known once, but after the Dominion War it wasn't so easy. Still she could appreciate the passion for one's interests and the pursuit of more knowledge and achievement in schooling. She had been a dedicated student herself, in part wanting to live up to her mother's legacy. That was the past, though.

When the Chief Science Officer mentioned that he had the strong support of his parents, Kana glimmered a smile. "I'm glad." was a thought that crossed her mind. His remarks on her interests caused her to momentarily lose that train of thought as even she couldn't help but laugh a little.

"The violin was something I was encouraged to pick up from my psychology tutor and mentor at the Academy. It helped me establish a rhythm to my new life there, pardon the pun." She paused briefly while turning to face Canaan, placing her coffee back down on the tray, clearly intent on going into elaboration.

"As for wrestling, I was convinced by my roommate at the Academy to go to the amateur wrestling club's open meet at the beginning of my first year. I was still a duckling getting used to water at the time, and they thought the best move was to push me straight in. Fortunately, I took to it rather well: I found it to be a suitable release for my rather late teenage angst."

She paused for a brief moment, before continuing. "I competed for the Academy, quickly becoming ranked one of the best amateur female wrestlers in our cohort. After a year and a half I started to dabble in mixed martial arts. I made a lot of friends who were into bodybuilding and other physically intense sports, so I used to train a lot with them, so it was always amusing when people underestimated me for my height without considering my mass. Matches in themselves have their own internal psychology; it's just as much about what your opponent is thinking as it is the way their body is moving. It taught me to appreciate impulses and struggles not just in myself but in other people too. While I obviously don't compete anymore, I like to keep my body in the same fighting condition and still spar on the holodeck occasionally, and with the odd crew-member who is brave enough." She teased with a rather cartoonish flexing of her arm and a wink before laughing some more.

"Do you enjoy any sort of sport? What about any other hobbies?" She threw the topic of conversation back to him so she could enjoy more of her iced coffee.

"I do." He finished the bite of brownie and took a sip of the iced coffee. "I was on the field hockey and water polo teams while at the Academy. Honestly, I was better playing on the field than in the water, but both sports were pretty fun, and I enjoyed the team dynamic." He grinned before continuing, "It was cross country where I ultimately found my stride, though." He chuckled, quietly reminding himself to keep the puns to a minimum. "I've been a long-distance runner since primary school," Canaan explained. "The solitude of self-competition is compelling, and I appreciate the alone time with my thoughts. Running is how I met Grego-," Catching a slip of the tongue, Canaan tried to recover, "I mean, the Commodore." He cleared an uncomfortable knot from his throat, avoiding the Counsellor's gaze. He was becoming more and more comfortable with Kana, which undoubtedly prompted the spontaneous confession. Canaan chided himself to be more careful, mainly where Gregory was concerned. He'd never forgive himself if he did anything to threaten the Commodore's career or livelihood.

"Um, aside from running, my hobbies vary and are usually dependent on mood, although outdoor activities are more appealing. Do you enjoy playing outside?" He asked nervously, hoping the Counsellor would leave alone his mentioning of Gregory and open the door to discussing an array of outside interests they both could share.

Canaan's interests in the outdoors or in solitary activities didn't surprise Kana. He was clearly someone who valued his space to reflect and improve himself both mentally and physically. She wondered how much of it came from his parents; for her part, her father had been the one who had fostered most of her general interests - music, reading, the arts - but it was her own desire once making it away from Betazed to get more into physical activity. She had sometimes wondered how her mother would react to seeing her now.

Her wondering had almost led her to miss the Science Officer's mention of the Commodore. While it did cause a momentary flicker in the Counsellor's eye, she could tell through his momentary correction that he was wary of drawing attention to his informality. Perhaps he just didn't want to seem improper - Canaan did seem the type to care about proper conduct - but Kana was already well aware of Paladin's seemingly natural ability to pull people into his gravitational pull and befriend them.

"Perhaps Canaan can shed some light on the Commodore for me, since everyone else who's voiced their opinion to me so far has either only been professional or kept their distance." It was a valuable source she wanted to utilise fully, but judging by his reasons for asking for this meeting in the first place, she would have to be patient. Besides, there was no telling how close they actually were.

"Sure, I like the outdoors." She responded enthusiastically. "My favourite ventures have often been while on shore-leave. The last one I took before being transferred to the Poseidon was actually Risa, on recommendation from my old Academy mentor. It was my first time to a beach, if you can believe it. I spent hours just walking the sands and exploring the caves..." She smiled as she thought back to those times. The fresh sea air, the sand beneath her feet, the chance to unwind before coming back into the fray.

"Say," she said suddenly, her dark eyes brought to life with the eager realisation of an idea. "Next time we reach a planet which has some caves, how's about you and I go do some exploring?"

The usual ethereal paler of Canaan's skin blanched, greying as he heard Kana's innocent suggestion. The rise and fall of his chest quickened as he took in long, deep breaths. His fingers curled around the curved arms of the chair, white-knuckled as a sheen of sweat dampened his forehead, top lip, and upper body. He was in the midst of a panic attack, the very thing he'd striven to avoid. A tidal wave of anxiety roiled from his aura and washed upon Kana like a tsunami. Their proximity to one another and the informality of this time meant that not all of her mental barriers might have been fully extended. He felt ill and then faint, "K-Kana..." He said weakly, his aquamarine-coloured eyes wide as they locked with hers.

The Chief Counsellor's eyes quickly grew concerned as she locked eyes with Canaan and felt his anxiety hit her like a wave. She was able to remain steadfast and not let it rock her too hard, but in an attempt to properly befriend the Chief Science Officer she had allowed her walls to lower slightly. A necessary move, yet she felt as though she should have been more careful, for Canaan's sake let alone hers. "Clumsy." She chastised herself for what she saw as her failing - in a tone similar to the one her mother would often employ against her - before she quickly turned a switch in her head and acted quickly to stem the tide of Canaan's anxiety before it got even worse.

Placing her drink down and turning her body fully towards Canaan's, she placed a hand on his shoulder and began to squeeze it gently, to give him a sense of being grounded and still being present. "Keep breathing, Canaan. Follow my rhythm." She then began to take long, calm breaths through her nose and mouth respectively, encouraging him to follow along with him. Every so often she'd gently squeeze his shoulder again. "That's it. Keep breathing."

[FLASHBACK]They'd never heard the Vulcan scream before today. The pointy-eared caporal was steadfast in outwardly denying their most basic of desires. Its sound was most tantalizing, almost hypnotic as it reverberated against the cavern's interior, different than the others in every way. It's piercing cry's played at different harmonics depending on the length and thickness of nearby geological points. Peculiar in the most satisfying of ways, was how they could change the skin sack's pitch. Most easily accomplished by adjusting the direction of the knuckle that sanded away under their psionic manipulations.

Sulerek's body floated approximately ten feet above the caverns' lava-rock bedding, as an unseen force immobilized the Vulcan scientist. Mostly intact, the only damage inflicted thus far concerned the fragile beings' vestigial digits. Ten different extremities, the purposes for which they knew not aside from redundancy, were bent in directions haphazard and foreign to the original design. This was most especially true near joints or knuckles. It interested them that these specific areas were omnidirectional, and took note of how this may be different for the lower extremities, which, although same in number, were shaped differently. Regardless, they needed to feed their innate need, and the screams were doing wonders at that. Perhaps if they twisted the digit this way instead? Oh yes! What a wonderful series of guttural pleas that produced. That digit was no more though, so maybe they could reproduce the sound using the other nine?[FLASHBACK]


Canaan breathed deeply, leaning into each of Kana's shoulder squeezes as the movement of his upper body started to match and mirror the Counsellor's technique. Slowly, the ringing in either ear dissipated, Sulerek's screams fading as Kana's soothing voice broke through. The Lieutenant followed her direction, nodding as he felt more grounded. "T-thank you... C-Commodore Paladin, I n-need h-him." He said it quietly, knowing the Counsellor wouldn't understand, but knowing there was nowhere else he needed to be.

For a moment, Kana got a glimpse into Canaan's inner thoughts. His emotions were so intense, so traumatic that they assaulted the Chief Counsellor's senses, giving her a sense of what he was experiencing. Horror, pain and anguish were the things she felt most strongly; there was also a growing sense of not being able to understand what was happening, and the fear that caused him as someone who always sought the rational answer. The trauma of not wanting to be witness to something but not being able to look away. All of it confirmed Kana's deepest fears, something which originally she had misread from their first meeting.

"Something happened on Arach VI. Something terrible." That much was obvious to her now, but still so many questions. What had he witnessed? What was it that he couldn't understand? Was the pain he felt his own, or someone elses? Who - or what - did this?

All these questions she wanted--no, needed--to ask, yet it was clear that she had only just been able to bring Canaan back from whatever trauma was shaking him. She could feel his utter exhaustion; now, unfortunately, was not the time to ask more questions. He asked to be with the Commodore, which certainly summoned a whole new host of questions within the Counsellor, but again now wasn't the time. She had a duty of care, and in this moment, he'd made it clear where he needed to be. "Perhaps the Commodore can enlighten me..."

Holding onto Canaan's shoulder still, she nodded firmly. "Alright. We'll find the Commodore. I'm going to ask you to take the remainder of the day off, and the next day if you need to; I'll inform your Department. I'm also going to bring our next counselling session forward, okay?" She said, helping him to stand and walking him to the door.

Canaan would have agreed to anything if it meant an escape from the tight drum in his chest. His heart beat so rapidly, it felt as if it would crack his sternum. He'd take the rest of the day. He'd attend, however many sessions Kana wanted from him. But he needed Gregory's calm, his understanding... not necessarily of the trauma, but of how to coach him through this panic-stricken moment. His white locks matted against the beads of sweat coating his forehead. Canaan avoided the gaze of curious onlookers as the Counsellor helped him toward the nearest exit. "I-I'll be okay..." He breathed through a whisper, "I-I just need a m-moment." He forced a smile, although it looked pained.

The Commodore had just so happened to be nearby when he nearly bumped - literally - into Canaan in the corridor. Gregory took instant note of the distress on his lovers face, quickly going into damage control as he glanced him over. Gregory had on his Chef's outfit, having just returned from the Officer's Mess and Kitchen after fixing a meal for the Officer's. It was his way of giving back to those on the ship. Right now, however, those thoughts were all but a vague memory as he looked concerned.

"Canaan, are you okay?"

Kana quietly observed the chemistry between Gregory and Canaan. It was immediately obvious to her from the concern on the Commodore's face and the change in his posture that there was a strong sense of affection there. Canaan, too, was clearly seeking his security, unafraid to be vulnerable in his presence. She knew that this was a trait most familiar with lovers; a beautiful thing, she thought, that one could blossom so soon aboard the ship. "Two vulnerable souls betwixt with each other." She thought.

"He's experiencing a panic attack." The Chief Counsellor answered on the Science Officer's behalf, helping him stand by holding his arm as she explained calmly to Gregory. "We're through the worst of it now, and I've steadied his breathing, but he asked to see you. Perhaps you could accompany us to his quarters? I'm going to relieve him from duties for the remainder of the day and tomorrow. If you would be able to keep him company, I think that would be best."

"Yeah, alright," Gregory said in a rush as he lifted he wrapped a hand around Canaan and help guide him, following the Chief Counsellor. His express was one of deep concern.

Canaan leaned into Gregory's support, feeling the wobble ebb from either leg. "I-I'm really quite alright, now." He tried to reassure Kana, willing his heart to slow its beat. The embarrassment had him avoiding eye contact with the Chief Counsellor and Commodore as they navigated the empty corridor. "I'm sorry," he mumbled, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the experience. The ringing in his ears subsided, although his body felt like a furnace. He apologised for the nuisance and unnecessary drama this episode inflicted on a rather enjoyable afternoon with Kana. He also apologised for pulling back the curtain, albeit subtly, of the personal link between Gregory and himself. "I'm just up ahead..." he commented, focusing his attention on anything but the vivid memory of Sulerek. Canaan straightened himself, pulling away from Kana and Gregory's support.

"It's alright, Canaan." Kana reassured him softly as she allowed him to begin walking on his own, though making sure she stayed just behind as they headed into his quarters. "I still think it best you take the time to rest. You had quite the attack; I suggest, this early on in the cruise, we play it safe."

Guiding him to sit down, she then knelt down beside him and held his hand. "I want you to know that I had a really wonderful time with you this afternoon, Canaan. We'll definitely find time to spend time together again; the next time I see you, however, I believe we should dedicate to counselling. Don't worry, we'll still take it slow." She offered him a warm smile as she squeezed his hand gently.

"Don't make me order it," Gregory said, softly, sincerely as the concern was still written on is face. "You were my rock during my episodes, but if yours is still this bad, don't be afraid to seek help. We're in this, together."

The Commodore had stood behind Kanaka when they entered, but as she had knelt to take his hand, Gregory had gone to the other side and took a knee as he placed a hand on the arm of the chair. He had nodded along with the Lieutenant Commander to emphasize solidarity in the situation, his words reinforcing her point.

"I love you Canaan," he said, looking sternly at Kanaka as if to imply these words were not meant for her. His eyes then bore - rather comfortingly - into the Lieutenant. "We're in this together and I'm not ashamed to be available when you need me."

Canaan leaned toward Gregory, their foreheads pressing together as the young Lieutenant nodded a silent understanding. He didn't know what else to say in that moment, yet felt a small glimmer of hope rise from within. Most of his career, Canaan had been a silent observer, watching the world with an insatiable curiosity that never tempered with age. He tried to apply order to the chaos of the universe with scientific reasoning. He couldn't reason what had happened for nearly four years on Arach VI, his mind, body, and soul weren't ready for such a feat. Yet, the hope in his heart was in knowing Gregory and Kana were there to help him sort through it all. He but only needed to let them in. And it was that which would take time, understanding, and no small degree of patience.

Standing slowly, Canaan walked to the bedroom door, his body exhausted utterly. He glanced over a shoulder, offering a weak, yet encouraging smile to Greg and Kana. Without saying another word, the white-haired Lieutenant crawled into bed, his body melting into the mattress.

Gregory stood when Canaan did, offering a lingering hand-hold briefly before watching the Lieutenant wander into bed. He gave a soft sigh, looking to the Lieutenant Commander.

"I'll handle things here," Gregory said, not a sense of shyness in his voice. "I think he needs some time alone, I'll just see if he wants me there too. Thank you, Kanaka, for everything."

He said the thanks to her, eyes focused on hers, a nod of appreciative understanding.

Kana gave a soft smile to Canaan as he made his way to bed, and gave an affirmative nod to Gregory as he thanked her. "I agree, some time and space would be best for him, though I'd wager he would like you to stay. I would appreciate it if you did, too."

Taking another moment to glance over at the now crumpled form of the Chief Science Officer on his mattress, she looked at the Commodore again and continued to speak, this time in a more hushed tone so as not to wake Canaan. "I won't ask you to share all your intimate details with me - what the two of you share is yours and yours alone - but I must ask that if you glimmer anything regarding what happened in his past to cause his attacks, or if his situation becomes more dire, you must let me know."

Placing a hand on the Commodore's arm for reassurance, she then turned and began to leave. Stopping in the door, she looked back. "Does the Commander know?"

Gregory approached Kanaka, replying in an equally hushed tone. His posture was slightly defensive, as if he were protecting Canaan who slept behind him. Once he realized the way he stood, he corrected himself, politely reorienting his posture to be more accommodating.

"You are well aware that someone who suffers from PTSD trusts only a few individuals to speak that to," Gregory said, whispering. "I will not betray that trust. Unless he is about to do something stupid, I will not. I expect the same thing from him. We have a bond that is deeper than that, formed from our equal understanding of that pain. Don't ask me that again."

He took a breath in, then shook his head, "No. Franklin is unaware."

Kana shook her head and took hold of Gregory's arm, her voice calm but with a rather stern look in her eye. "Gregory. That's exactly what I meant. I'm not asking you to betray that trust; I asked you to tell me if things turn dire, and that if you learn anything which might make sure we prevent that from happening in future, you tell me. I will ask the same of him, for your own sake. I have a duty of care to you, to him, to everyone on this ship; I will ask what I must for the well being of this crew. I would not ask this of you if I didn't think it important. Do you understand now?"

There was a sense of recognition on his face, the Commodore nodding then. "Alright. I understand."

The Chief Counsellor produced a warm smile, and the grip on his arm lessened. "Thank you. I'm always here for you, and for him too. Now - I should go and let the Science Department know that Canaan will be off for the remainder of the day."

As she went to step out of the door, she stopped herself. "Oh, and about the Commander - for what it's worth, I think you should tell him. He cares deeply about you, like a son does his father; he would want to share in your happiness with you."

Looking back at him for a few seconds more with a far gentler look in her eye, she gave him another smile before departing without another word, the doors shutting as she left.

Gregory stood there, unusually silent as he watched her go. He gave a parting smile; weak and hidden behind his thoughts. When she departed and the door slid close, he stared at the door a moment longer. Turning around after that moment, he released a sigh and took off his shirt. His mind was frayed after today and he sought the solace of his lover, even if that was simply laying with them. He gazed down upon Canaan, briefly rubbing a hand over their cheek. Gently, he layed in the bed, wrapping a protective - and needy - arm around them as he gave a sigh of relief.

[OFF]

"A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities."

 

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