Luca raised a brow, noticing the shine of her eyes and reaching for one of the starchy napkins he kept close by, holding one out to her. He felt a little bad that he had brought the woman to tears (he had not quite gotten to the part about how Elasians expressed their emotions), but he also noted how there was no shame to this on her part. She was not hiding the tears that shimmered in her eyes, nor did apologise with sound ashamed when she offered her apology. She sounded sincere. That was a truly important thing to note.
Ella was careful to ensure the hand she used to take the napkin was dry. “Thankyou” She said reaching to take the napkin. She made sure still that there was skin contact as she plucked it from his serving hand. The last thing she needed was to risk contaminating a species she had no idea about nor the effects her tears would have on him, though she suspected he would be fine.
“I should be thanking you,” he pointed out as he gave her the napkin, wondering a little at how she plucked it as though she wanted to avoid any contact (he was not to know just how potent tears could be; not yet). “You could have quite easily doubled down and carried on saying terrible things about your own people, but what I want you to remember is that it is entirely understandable that you would take this stance. I would take the same stance! Not letting people get a chance to call your own people those things because you,” he motioned at her with the PADD in his hand. “Have said them first. It takes the power back, and it is smart.” He had looked at her a moment and then down at her record. The list of former appointments with therapists and coaches was endless!
Once again he took another brick from the wall which was very quickly becoming less and less fortified. It was clear he was different perhaps more refined in his methods or he just understood what it was like to be different and was applying his own experiences to her. “I hadn’t realised thats what I’d been doing.” And truthfully and consciously she didn’t but as she recalled the many times she had, the image seemed to become less foggy.
“What this can do,” he continued. “Is, with the continual reinforcement of that narrative; primitive and brutal, it can compound to such a degree that our minds betray us. We remember events based on the data we have, and if that data has been modified by years of you presenting - and I do understand why - a world which may actually not quite be as awful as you recall.” He thought for a second, glancing at the PADD. “That said, it does like hard place; but if you can factor in the art and history to the narrative that you tell, well … you may start reclaiming - or just claiming - some Elasian pride!”
“I’m not here to stroke your brain, Lieutenant,” he looked at her, candidly. There was no unkindness, only a professionalism and perhaps maybe the hint of his own facade cracking as her sudden shift to allowing herself to be honest and vulnerable had nearly blind-sided him! He really would have to do his homework. “I know by now that half the counsellors in Starfleet would be sat beside you, assuring you of how their door is always open, and how you can vent and …” he waved his hand dismissively. “All that Craintrae dung you have probably heard a thousand times. And those things are true! But they are not special to you, Ella; those conditions are set to every member of this crew who I serve as their counsellor. But with you …” he looked down again at the endless lines of entries. “What I want is for it to be unnecessary that you need so much intervention. So that you need not live your life with half of your backside in front of some nodding, smiling person who is not making sure you are safe, and well, and will … who knows?! One day you may rule us all as Admirable of the Fleet - you won’t be doing that if so much time is spent wasted.”
Ella let out a nervous laugh, “An admiral” The idea sent a shock through her which made her consider the idea, she liked it. Bouncing back to the rest of his words she wondered just what he meant, did this mean she wasn’t going to do so many session? She’d grown so accustomed to it that she felt that it was just a way of life, her daily routine to remember to fit in her sessions and while she’d grown to the idea she wondered what her life would be like with out them. She couldn’t deny they’d shaped her to who she was today.#
“Well, why not?” He mused. “Just don’t forget us little folk when you are running the Federation … unless our sessions turn sour then feel free to forget me at your leisure.”
He was tapping notes as he spoke. “But there is work to be done,” he looked up at her. “And you aren’t going to like me very much during some of it; maybe even more so than when you first walked in.” He allowed himself the smallest of smiled. “Because you looked at me like I was either going to be a bother or a bore.” He inclined his head. “I hope I was the first … actually,” he cocked his head as he looked at the PADD. “It says here you have been given the entire day to settle in to your quarters and meet me - you can hold the applause - and yet I feel this would be the perfect opportunity to find out just what I am letting loose on the ship.” He got to his feet. “We’re going to go for a walk around the ship; I hear the Security Offices are in bloom this time of year.” He was already moving to his office door.
Ella didn’t move at first, his sudden expression and decision to go for a walk took her ultimately by surprise. Rooted to the spot she suddenly flashed a mixture of emotions, no body had really bothered to see what it was like for her to walk through the ship. He’d observe everything at its most raw moment, it took time of a crew to get used to her presence and often the first week or so was particularly awkward, but her first real exploration of the ship… it was going to be a disaster. She finally stood and walked toward Luca, she hoped he would lead and she could simply follow though she was about to find out it wasn’t the case.
When he looked back at her, there was something in his eyes that showed that yes, he was putting her on the ropes but that ‘no’, this was no mockery, or ‘putting her in her place’ (though time would tell), he was quite serious. “Lead on, Lieutenant Lokaa. You’ll be thrilled to know I have hours free for this.”
Almost objecting Ella was again left for the second time today speechless, hours? she though, was he really going to follow her for hours? would be the first time she thought to herself again. Deciding that she would face the challenge head on she forced a smile, which on her face didn’t appear forced but graceful and nodded, “Well I guess I haven’t had the chance to explore the ship yet.” She wasn’t sure if her exaggerated confidence was showing as false but she wanted to give him a chance, after all he’d already accomplished much in their short exchange.
Luca gave a small smile, nodded and fell in a few steps behind her, looking as casual as he might if he had just happened to be walking close to her as they travelled. What he was looking for was not so much the reaction of the human males on the ship to her presence, but also how she dealt with this. So far it seemed to be just ignore it and she had no reported any harassment. ‘Hmm,’ he thought. ‘That is something I had better keep in mind. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel they are being harassed.’ He hated the idea of some creepy senior officer making unwanted comments or even advances. Luca was quite sure the Chief Science Officer would have that well in hand should it ever come up, but it mattered little what department any officer who came through the counselling suite ended up in; they were all his charges.
Stepping out of the office she only gave a cursory check to see if he was following, which he was given that he had suggested the activity. She wasn’t sure if she should make conversation or just simply make her way through the ship. She chose the former for now unsure what to say and already her effect? Presence? Powers? Were showing as they passed two crew member who had been talking. The one facing them tilted his head in their direction and the other not trying to hide his action looked over his shoulder. Jaw dropping wasn’t exactly their expression but they had a expression in their face of curiosity and a deeper desire, primal almost. Ella smiled at them and they uttered a sultry “Lieutenants” In their direction, she was thankful they at least acknowledged Luca’s presence.
As they passed and moved away their conversation started again, she could hear that they were talking about her now, and oddly Luca too. “I’m sure its against policy for the counsellor to be interested in their work” One of them said in a whisper loud enough for them to hear. Ella ignored the comment, from what she’d seen of the counsellor he was professional and refreshingly immune to her Elasian traits and initial meetings tend to bring out either loathing or jealousy in human men. “I don’t blame him.” Was the last thing she could hear before they continued down the corridor towards the turbo lift. She didn’t have any particular destination, she figured they would just walk.
In a fit of pure childishness, Luca burst out laughing at the comments aimed their way as they passed, suddenly realising that all they were seeing was a beautiful, alluring woman whom he was sort of following around the ship. The change this made to his normally controlled and serious features was quite something; he looked like a cadet goofing around during class. “I’m sorry,” he said, motioning for Ella to stop as he collected himself. “This is so unprofessional of me, but the looks of intrique, wonder and jealousy on that man’s face and the assumption that I am just going to follow you around!” He looked up to her with something akin to mischief in his eyes. “Imagine if that get’s back to the Commodore! You may very well have the power to kick me off the ship rather than I failing your evaluation.” He stood up straight and cleared his throat. “Be kind,” he said, getting a hold of himself. “I like it here.” He motioned for them to continue and fell in line next to her.
“So I imagine that, as graceful as you are at handling this kind of attention, until you get to know people and they become more … accustomed to you; are you constantly in a state of … readiness? Or alertness? It seems like the task falls to you to be so careful!” They reached the turbolift and despite his insistence that she ‘lead the way’ he was quick to say “Deck 16,” before he turned to her. “How do you possibly relax while you work? Does it not interfere with your … what kind of science do you do, again?”
The turbolift came to a halt and he strode out confidently, coming to a stop not far in front of the Holodeck. He turned to Ella and gave her a raised, questioning brow. “You show me yours, I’ll show you mine?” His hand patted the holodeck door. Maybe he was pushing it with this one, and if he had overplayed his hand, he could just take her to Lumeria. But he couldn’t help himself; the separation from her planet, people and culture must have been so absolute, he wanted to see what effect being confronted with it might have. The chances of this happening organically was next to nothing, but who knew? “We don’t have to drop in to your family home or a big city; I just want to see your homeworld, is all. You can set us in a swamp or on the side of a mountain if you wish … provided the safety stays on!”
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