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Late Night in the Crew Lounge (tag anyone interested)

Posted Jan. 24, 2022, 7 p.m. by Ensign Kastarak (Doctor) (Richard A)

Posted by Ensign Umbri Zayne (Security Officer) in Late Night in the Crew Lounge (tag anyone interested)

Posted by Ensign Kastarak (Doctor) in Late Night in the Crew Lounge (tag anyone interested)

Posted by Ensign Umbri Zayne (Security Officer) in Late Night in the Crew Lounge (tag anyone interested)
Posted by… suppressed (4) by the Post Ghost! 👻
Umbri was feeling very restless that night, and she had no idea why. But she did know one thing: There was no way she was getting any sleep until she figured it out. Umbri quietly got out of bed, changed into her uniform, and carefully left her quarters without waking Kastarak.

If there was one place on the ship Umbri could go to clear her head, it was the Crew Lounge. She walked in and sat down close to the window. Suddenly, her mind turned to the reason her parents cut her off. Umbri got out the necklace always kept hidden under her clothes and toyed with it.

She sighed. “I doubt anyone on this ship will understand what I’ve gone through. But still, I’m not gonna be able to keep this secret forever. I just wish there was someone I could talk to without being judged,” said Umbri.

Ensign Umbri Zayne, Security

Kastarak woke up when Umbri left her bunk. He sensed that something was wrong – Umbri had moved in a slightly different way, there was a sharpness to her motor behaviours that otherwise wouldn’t be observed, particularly as she went out of her bed and changed into her uniform. Something definitely was up. Umbri left, and Kastarak pulled over a Vulcan robe over his pyjamas. He almost looked like a Vulcan high priest now. But it was a comfortable one, and perfectly dignified to wear on one’s time off.

“Computer, locate Ensign Umbri Zayne.”

“Ensign Umbri Zayne is in the crew lounge.” replied the computer promptly.

Kastarak quickly walked to the crew lounge, and saw Umbri stand there, toying with her necklace.

“Umbri…” he said softly, signalling to her that he was open for conversation.

– Dr Kastarak (Ensign)

Umbri snapped out of her thoughts, quickly hiding the necklace even though she knew Kastarak had already seen it. She sighed. “I was hoping that I didn’t wake you. Sorry about that. I’ve just got a lot on my mind right now.” she said. Umbri pondered for a moment, wondering what to say next. ‘Perhaps Kastarak will understand what I’m going through,’ she thought. Umbri turned and scooted over, inviting Kastarak to sit with her. “You mind joining me? It might help if I just bite the bullet and start opening up,” she said.

Ensign Umbri Zayne, Security

Umbri Zayne had become such an integral part of Kastarak’s life on board Chernov, that she had formed part of his Chernov identity. The smell of her – despite being human it was not entirely unpleasant (though he would have preferred to avoid it – and he had actually caught himself a few times forgetting the odour desensitization sprays). Her music, her books, her things, her clothes. The sound of her breathing, coughing, laughing. It was all part of his every-day life.

As such, when Umbri experienced distress, as it was quite evident now, Kastarak experienced it too, in some sense. It reminded him of his Academy days, and helped him understand empathy – from a non-Vulcan point of view. It was something very difficult now, and he wanted to tread very carefully. He was no therapist, but he was a friend. And that was the role he wished to undertake.

He took on Umbri’s invitation in silence, seated himself next to her. He had found that humans – and, indeed, many other species – preferred not to sit in direct confrontation to someone else when relating something difficult. They would find it easier to speak, knowing the presence of the other person, but not feeling observed or scrutinized by them.

He was a bit confused by the metaphor “biting the bullet” but decided that now was not the time to explore it. But it certainly conveyed a grave difficulty to come over to speak – similar to his experiences of trauma (losing his planet, his family, everyone he ever knew…), discussing his experiences of pon farr, and so on. Perhaps Umbri, by showing courage in sharing, would help him, when the time is needed, to find courage to open up too. Now was certainly not the time that he wanted to open up, nor needed.

Now was Umbri’s time.

“I am here,” he said quietly. “I listen.”

– Dr Kastarak (Ensign)

Umbri took a deep breath before beginning her story. “I’ve never told anyone what happened between me and my parents. But somehow, I trust you enough to be honest. The truth is that Umbri Zayne isn’t my real name. I was born as Carolyn Hawkins. But around the time I started high school, I figured out that I wasn’t like most kids my age in that I didn’t fit into the traditional gender stereotypes. I did some research online, and I realized that I was gender neutral, which means I go by they/them. I also realized that I was pansexual, meaning I’m attracted to all people. It’s all about their personality, basically. It took me a long time to become comfortable with myself, and I finally worked up the courage to come out to my parents when I turned 18,”

Umbri paused, tears beginning to form in her eyes. “But that backfired horribly. My parents were devout Christians, and even though I was their own child, they chose their faith over me. We got into a huge fight, and they ended up cutting me off. That was a few weeks before I entered Starfleet Academy. I certainly wasn’t Carolyn Hawkins anymore. I changed my name to Umbri Zayne when I started at the Academy, but I still stuck to female pronouns. I was just so afraid that people would react the same way my parents did if I decided to come out completely. And it’s taken a huge toll on my mental health that I haven’t been able to be true to myself. But it’s gotten to a point where I just can’t hide it anymore. If I’m not being true to myself, it’s likely going to destroy me. I had to tell someone,” they said.

Umbri sighed, grateful that the weight was finally lifted from their shoulders. “I’m sorry for putting all of this on you at once. I’ll accept whatever decision you make,” they said.

Ensign Umbri Zayne, Security

As Umbri spoke, Kastarak noticed that there was not much in what they said that initially made sense to him, though what did make sense was the immense anxiety that Umbri conveyed, and that seemed somewhat resolved by pronouncing the words. After pondering his inner reactions, he tried to structure what his bunkmate had said in a way that made sense to him. Umbri’s short monologue was packed with information, information extremely specific to human culture, or at least alien to Kastarak’s Vulcan culture.

However, he had heard of Christianity – not very much though. He recalled visiting churches on Earth during his short stay there, finding them similar (and different!) to Vulcan temples. But parents rejecting their children – that he knew of. He could not fathom why anyone would do it because of a biological sexual urge or not defining their gender by their sexual characteristics, but then again, humans did not understand why some Vulcans had disowned their children for having undergone mindmelds, or preferred to reject logic and live out a primitive emotive life of their ancestors – similar to Romulans. However, similar to logic extremists, he thought Christians had become extinct. He had never met one. But that did not matter either. Umbri’s experience was still their experience. It was nothing Kastarak ought to question, especially not in Umbri’s current state of mind. They did not want a logical examination now, they simply wanted their human urge of being understood, or so Kastarak gathered. Why they turned to Kastarak did not make much sense either: he was not good in processing emotions. He had his own emotional difficulties. But he had meditation as an outlet, humans do not respond to meditation in the same way. They must learn to regulate their emotions instead of suppressing their conscious expression. To Kastarak, it seemed like a much harder and more difficult experience.

He wondered how he was supposed to answer them. Humans would normally express sympathy, using words such as “I am sorry you had to undergo that”, “it pains me that you’ve had to experience that…” Such words would sound hollow if coming from Kastarak. He knew of the pain, he understood the courage needed in the midst of this anxiety, but he struggled to convey his understanding and acknowledgement of both anxiety and courage in a way that would not seem hollow or rejecting of Umbri’s experience.

“Umbri,” he said, and moved his head to look at his friend. “I recognize both the pain and the courage it took for you to reach this point. I am honoured that you chose to share your story with me. Should you like for me to keep it all secret, I will abide by that for as long as you wish. But if so, I will have to be both respectful of your desires but disrespectful of you by referring to you as she when speaking to our colleagues. How would you wish to proceed?”

Kastarak immediately thought of much better ways of speaking, but what had been said had been said. Was his question really important at this stage? Should he have asked Umbri about their feelings now? That’s what humans would do, not Vulcans. It would be odd for him, be insincere, wrong.

He noticed his heart rate increasing, closed his eyes for a few microseconds, noticed the emotions of inadequacy and anger – both directed to himself and Umbri’s parents – and then calmed it down, repressed the emotions, locked them in, and returned to his normal state.

– Dr Kastarak (Ensign)

Umbri shook their head. “I’ve kept this a secret long enough, and this crew has become my family. It may take a while for some of them to come around, but I’ve got a good feeling that most of the crew will support me. And if they don’t, so be it. Keeping this secret has been detrimental to my health, and that stops now. I’ll figure out how to update the records, and I’ll likely tell Counselor Dran about it. I’m way overdue for an appointment with her, anyways,” Umbri paused, smiling at Kastarak. “As for you being the first to know, of course I was gonna tell you first. You’re my bunkmate. Plus I’ve found that I’ve been able to talk to you about basically anything. And I’m glad that I have your support. It would’ve been really awkward otherwise,” they said.

Ensign Umbri Zayne, Security

Kastarak nodded. He was unsure what he should say now. He sat still for a few seconds – hoping that Umbri would find the silence comforting rather than awkward. He could validate all that Umbri had said – agreeing that seeing counsellor Dran would be a good idea, that opening up about one’s true self is most likely – for humans at least – beneficial for one’s mental and physical health. He could also say that the records could easily be updated. All these things – Umbri knew them. It would be illogical to reinforce what they already know. Even if humans often did that, it was not something Kastarak could do.

“Thank you. I hope this has brought some peace for you. I understand it’s been heavy on you.”

This was a serene moment for Kastarak, he wanted to prolong it. What had caused this? The bonding, the shared connectedness? He wanted to explore that. He could afford to stay away an extra hour or so. He’d just have to make up with some extra meditation tomorrow. But could Umbri afford to stay up? They – being human – were more sensitive to sleep disturbances than he was. He needed to consider their needs more so than his own.

“Should we have some camomile tea before we head to bed again?”

– Dr Kastarak (Ensign)


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