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The Carer

Posted on 09 Oct 2017 @ 1:34am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Holodeck 1
Timeline: Nov. 7, 2388 - Late evening

Speaking to a counselor was good and all, but they could only do so much. Sometimes, a person needed more than a counselor. Jayla found herself in that place just now. What she really needed- what most girls really needed from time to time- was to talk to her dad.

But, he was on Trill and she was in the Gamma Quadrant. There was just no feasible way to talk to him just now. She briefly considered taking a couple weeks' leave and going home, but ruled that out; she'd just gotten off a two-month leave. She didn't suppose she could get one approved, no matter how much it would improve her mental health.

What was the next best thing? A friend she'd come to trust long ago. Someone who would tell her truth, no matter how unpleasant. Someone who could be, at times, both friend and father. And there was only one place to find him.

And so she found herself standing outside the holodeck, program loaded and ready. She took a deep breath and walked through the doors.

Inside, she found a circular room with a round consul in the center, lit with vertical lights. She smiled as she gazed at the round things on the wall. “I've always loved the round things,” she muttered vaguely. “What are the round things, anyway?”

“I was hoping you knew,” came a voice from behind her.

She turned to see The Doctor just closing the door as he, too, entered the TARDIS. His hair was grey, but still hinted at the dusty blond it once was and his narrow, heart-shaped face was lined with wrinkles, but Jayla had never seen a more beautiful person than the one who stood before her. “Hello, Doctor,” she said.

“Oh, dear,” he said. “I know that tone. You want to talk.”

She replied with a simple smile.

“All right,” he said, going to the center consul. “But, if we talk, I get to pick where we're going.” And he fiddled with the controls until the familiar metallic scraping sound filled the room.

“Fair enough,” she replied.

“So, what's on your mind?”

She sighed and considered that question. She didn't know where to start. “I just...” she started, and then stopped. “I... a lot of stuff has happened to me lately and I just... I can't get over it.”

“I see,” replied the Doctor. A lot of weight was in those two words and Jayla had no doubt that he really did see. But, she waited patiently as he fiddled with the controls a bit more, then turned to face her. “Your problem is that you care too much,” he said finally.

“Care?” she repeated. “Too much?” She shook her head blankly in confusion.

“You see, those who care the most, feel the most pain,” he explained. “And you've got one of the biggest hearts I have ever encountered. Of course, there's a solution.”

“What's that?” she asked, taking the bait.

“Stop caring, of course,” he replied simply. “But, I wouldn't recommend it. People like you have got to keep caring. It's very important, you see, because the universe is filled with so much hate and anger that when such love enters it, it simply must stay as long as possible. The universe needs people like you to teach the rest of us how to love deeply. So that pain, the fact that it's weighing you down so heavily- that's a good thing. Because it means you love. I've met a lot of people in my lifetimes and I think it's impossible for anybody to love anyone as much as you love everyone and I've no idea how you manage it, I really don't.”

Speechless was not a concept familiar to Jayla, but she was that just now. It took her several moments to find her voice and to figure out how to respond. “So, you're saying it's a good thing that I'm so lost right now?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” he replied. “If I could hurt half as much as you must be doing just now, I'd count myself lucky.” He paused a moment, regarding her solemnly. “What's brought this all on?”

“A lot of things,” she admitted. “Mostly, though, I'm afraid I may have killed someone in self-defense, and a good friend died. I... feel responsible for his death.”

“Did you kill him?” asked the Doctor.

“What? No!”

“Then why do you feel responsible?”

“Because he was attempting to get to me when he was killed,” she replied. “And I feel like if he didn't care about me, he wouldn't have done that.”

“Ah, there it is,” he replied sagely. “So you want to care, but you don't want anyone else to return that care. That's not the way it works.”

Of course! That explained so much. That's why she was feeling so weird around her friends. Subconsciously, she was pushing them away so that they wouldn't care about her. After all, nobody could die for her if they did not care about her. “That's why I don't want to talk to Harvey!” she exclaimed.

“Wait, who's Harvey?” The Doctor asked. “Is he the dead one?”

“No, that's Silak.”

“Ah. So who's Harvey?”

“Just a friend,” answered Jayla. “But never mind him. He's not important. Well, he is, but not just now. I haven't been wanting to talk to my old friends lately. I guess that's why. Poor Harvey! He must think I hate him.”

“You'd better talk to him.”

“Yeah.” She paused for a moment. Her head felt clearer than it had in months. Between Stuart and The Doctor, she was liable to be perfectly all right.

Eventually.

“Thank you, Doctor,” she said. “I feel much better.”

“I don't do this for just anyone, you know,” replied The Doctor. “Only my friends.”

It didn't matter that he was just a hologram. It didn't matter that he wasn't a real person. Just the fact that someone cared that much was good enough for her. And of course, it reminded her that there were actual real people who cared deeply about her and on whom she could count.

She gave the Doctor her best smile. “Well, I suppose I should go talk to some of my friends,” she said finally.

“But, you forgot!” exclaimed the Doctor, throwing a lever to park the TARDIS. “I get to pick where we go.”

“Oh, all right,” said Jayla. “I can talk to them tomorrow. They're probably sleeping now anyway. So where are we?”

“Parenix,” he announced proudly as he crossed to the door. “A lovely green planet untouched by people of any species. But, for good reason.”

She laughed. “And why is that?” she asked.

“Because,” he said dramatically as he threw open the doors, revealing three giant lizards just flying past. “Here there be dragons!”

Without even thinking, Jayla ran to the door to check it out, but stopped before leaving the TARDIS. “Is it... is it... safe?” she asked.

“They're friendly,” he promised. “When have I ever taken you anywhere that wasn't safe?”

“Uh, only every other time I've gone on an adventure with you,” she replied.

He hesitated. “Good point,” he said. “But this is safe. I promise. The rules are, you don't leave anything and you don't take anything. Stick to that and you'll be fine. Come! They'll let you ride them! It's a bit like a roller coaster.”

With another laugh, Jayla followed him through the door and into the land of dragons!

 

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