Posted by Lieutenant Commander T’Aria (XO / Navigation Officer) in Private Mess - A Little Suffering is Good for the Soul (tag Kastarak)
Posted by Ensign Kastarak (Doctor / Counsellor) in Gym - A Little Suffering is Good for the Soul (tag Kastarak)
Posted by Lieutenant Commander T’Aria (XO / Navigation Officer) in Gym - A Little Suffering is Good for the Soul (tag Kastarak)
Posted by… suppressed (4) by the Post Ghost! 👻
Despite the relative fullness of the gym, there was not much to listen to except grunts and the casual insults humans threw around to hold each other accountable. Were they effective? Harsh jabs seemed to motivate their partners to test their limits, earning them noticeable improvements in strength and endurance, but they were careful to avoid ‘going too far’. T’Aria could not tell what made it socially acceptable to insult fellow crewmates, but the presence of boundaries suggested some emotional involvement. A friendship, perhaps? Maybe the banter reinforced their bond like quality time and empathy strengthed others’ as these sessions often ended with smiles and affectionate gestures (or so humans considered shoulder slaps and ‘playful’ shoves). T’Aria did not realise she invested so much energy into speculating about human friendships until she heard the pitter patter of footsteps fast approaching.
“Doctor,” she said before she fully registered Kastarak stepping onto the treadmill beside her.
T’Aria had not attempted conversation since their run-in with the ‘Romulan Flu’. There hadn’t been a need, really. She attributed their vulnerability to the virus and chose to meditate on the truths they shared in confidence. Her logic justified her avoidance by convincing her that discussing personal trauma would infringe on the other’s privacy when, in reality, it would only infringe on her comfort. T’Aria glanced at Kastarak with the faintest impulse to say something, but she subdued the urge and returned to her workout, matching the belt speed until her heels barely touched the inflexible rubber below.
Kastarak’s jog went a little faster than usual, but not as fast as a sprint. He would only do that mid-way throughout his forty-minute run. He sensed he needed to get something out of his system. Perhaps it was related to T’Aria. They hadn’t spoken since their discharge from quarantine. There had been no logical reason for them to do so. But he had thought of her rather a lot in the days since: Vivid imagery of them together in quarantine, the imagery of her emotional pain, the experience of deep empathy with her for her loss…
“It is agreeable to see you having recovered from the influenza. Is this your first run since?”
T’Aria reached for her water bottle and stepped off the treadmill, fully prepared to bid Kastarak farewell with little more than a cordial nod. Then, he spoke and with his words went her plan to slip away. She expected some tension or an urge to end the conversation before it began, but it was a relief to hear his voice (though she didn’t entertain why).
“Yes. I noticed considerable post-viral fatigue in the week following our release,” T’Aria answered, “did you feel it too?”
“I did, too. Compared to so-called normal influenzas, it was to expected,” he replied, trying to keep the conversation professional. T’Aria had been his patient after all. What was their relationship now? Was it that of a patient and her doctor, or was it between colleagues, or was it, between friends? These fluid lines appeared more “human” than “Vulcan” to Kastarak, and while it was difficult for him to separate them, it was not an unwelcome difficulty – which in itself gave him a slight sense of surprise.
T’Aria hummed and fiddled with the silcone strap of the waterbottle she soon concealed, hooked on the fingers clapsed behind her back. “If this is a common experience, it may be worth adding to the file to reinforce the expectations of the…” she could not recall whether they identified its species, but ‘Romulan Flu’ seemed inappropriate and inaccurate, “virus.”
Like any influenza, the virus left lingering fatigue and weakness. It made simple tasks (to Vulcans) seem uniquely challenging. Exercise became a chore to tight, inflexible muscles, reports appeared blurred or jumbled to an unfocused mind, and sleep seemed more important than ever. That was her experience – what was his?
“How are you recovering, otherwise?” T’Aria asked, noting that his run suggested some improvement in his physical health. There was a lot more to health than the body, however, so she left the question open so he might choose what to add or omit.
“Somatically, well, better than I had expected” Kastarak replied, emphasizing the somatic status of his health. “Though,—” he said, paused, and wasn’t sure if he should tell her the other struggles he had – those of his memories and emotions – the shared grief he experienced with T’Aria earlier. He wanted to speak of it with her, but would it be logical?
Though it soothed a distant worry in T’Aria to hear he felt physically better, she did not sense the relief she expect. He looked well, but she was more concerned with what she couldn’t see. There wouldn’t have been a need to stress his somatic health if his mental and spiritual health thrived in equal measure. What wasn’t he saying?
He stood still for a few moments. It was probably only two, three seconds, but it felt longer than that to Kastarak. He looked down to the floor, examining the way his shoe laced had been tied. He noted a slight asymmetry in their tying. What did that mean?
T’Aria noticed how he averted his gaze as if in deep thought or avoidance of what troubled him. Was he alright? She thought to give him space, to disengage and prevent the disharmony of his discomfort, but she reminded herself that maybe he needed to say whatever came after his ominious ‘though’. And maybe she needed to hear it.
“You remember that I was emotionally compromised during the quarantine.” he said, examining how T’Aria might react to his statement.
A flicker of ineffable emotion passed through her eyes, but she acknowledged him only with a nod.
“I have not fully recovered from that. It steals cognitive resources I’d have preferred use for my work and meditation,” he said. He noticed a relief in himself after confessing this. He wanted to ask T’Aria if she had a similar experience, but he felt that might be too invasive. Yet, he was her doctor, and she his patient. Why had he exposed himself like this? Was this not unethical? Unprofessional?
A feeling of lightheadedness came over him, he stopped running on the treadmill, got off it, and stood still on the floor. Yet, the sensation of nausea would not stop, and he felt as if he wanted to throw up. What was it? Was he sick? He remembered he had some sort of stomach bug just before starting school, as a child, and that was the first time he could remember that he would vomit. Why did he think of that? Why did he want to vomit?
Again, she was confronted by an overwhelming urge to leave. Her feet tingled as if newly ‘awakened’ from paresthesia, a product of her quickened breath, but she regained control before it drew attention. T’Aria’s conscious mind had no desire to leave. He opened up about an experience that, though tradition deemed deeply personal and inappropriate to discuss in public, bothered him. She empathised, and the connection they formed in Sickbay only made her more apt to listen.
“I understand,” she said but could not bring herself to say more. Not here. There were too many people. And he already seemed… uneasy? Ill? Relieved, perhaps. She could not pinpoint his exact condition. “I am here if you want to talk,” she assured, “but perhaps we should continue this conversation somewhere more private?”
Having been oblivious to the buzz and fever of the gymnasium, the various people working out, grunting, talking, breathing, and treadmills running, weights clinking…, T’Aria’s suggestions caused in Kastarak a sudden realization of the reality: they weren’t alone, and this was a highly private conversation.
He readily agreed.
“Please, if you could spare the time,” he said. His heart was pleading, but he tried to keep a straight face.
He had not run enough to begin perspiring, so he hoped they could spare the showers before going. If this conversation was a shuttle, it needed to be caught now, not later, lest they’d miss it.
(OOC: cue the elevator music of the transition scene. Dodededododedo~)
( ooc: teehee ;) )
“I will make the time,” T’Aria said with a sideways glance at the door, “come with me.”
“Of course,” he replied, before he even had registered a sense of relief in his gut. Once it was registered, he purged it. He knew that following T’Aria and discussing it would be logical. Emotions were of little help until they would actually speak of it. A serene mind until then would be helpful, and, moreover, logical.
Truthfully, she did not know where to take him that didn’t carry the risk of someone interrupting or overhearing their conversation. The common areas – the gym, mess hall, galley and lounge – were too populated at this hour. She didn’t have an official office, only a conference room she commandeered when work demanded the facade of privacy, and it seemed inappropriate to ask Taggart to borrow his office. (That would bring more attention.) What about Sickbay? No, that seemed insensitive, as if implying he needed medical attention. Would he read that deep into it? Was she reading too deep?
T’Aria dismissed the idea as they approached the Gym doors and she gestured him to the nearest Turbolift.
He followed, a step behind T’Aria. He did not want to talk with her needlessly until they were somewhere private. He just hoped it would not be in the turbolift. Perhaps they would go to her office?
In any case, he kept quiet.
“Deck Two,” she ordered, earning the schliiik of the turbolift doors followed by a muffled whirring. Though their journey lasted less than a minute, the silence was excruciating (at least to her). T’Aria gestured Kastarak ahead of her when the doors peeled open before leading him to the Private Mess – the only neutral and often vacant space that came to mind.
Why was this silence so uncomfortable? Surely that wouldn’t be logical? Kastarak was confused. He quickly purged the feeling. Now was not the time for emotion. Serenity of mind, that was all he needed until they could speak of it.
The last time he had been here, he had been with his friend Ngogav Sega’a and collague Todd Applegate. They had been cooking, and there had been awkward exchanges. Would there be awkward exchanges again?
“We should not be bothered here,” T’Aria said once they were securely inside. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Thank you, a cup of tea would be welcome”, replied Kastarak.
Her offer was genuine but, more importantly, it was an invitation for him to lead the conversation at his pace, on his terms.
But he didn’t say anything at this point....
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