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Breakfast With The Captain

Posted on 09 May 2018 @ 12:28am by Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D. & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Captain's Mess
Timeline: MD5 || 0700 hours [Backpost]

Avery smiled as she approached Harvey with her breakfast tray of an omelette and potatoes. She was hungry and the food smelled delicious, but more than the cuisine, she appreciated the company. It had been a while since the two of them had met for breakfast, but she was glad to get back into the routine and was pleased to receive the invitation. Most of the time the conversation focused on professional matters or even Avery herself, but on occasion, Harvey would share his personal insights.

Stuart wouldn't characterize their relationship as particularly close, but she respected and admired the man immensely, and she suspected he respected her as well. At times, she lamented the fact they didn't have a closer professional relationship as would be typically expected of a counselor and Captain, although if she were being honest, she could admit there were times when she wasn't all that forthcoming either. A small part of her was envious of the closeness he and Joey shared, not because she was envious of the romantic connection, but because they had developed an intimacy that she and Harvey did not. "Good morning."

Supplied only with a cup of tea, a plate of french toast, and a cup of strawberries, Harvey was already seated in the private room. Unlike his previous meetings, Harvey had arrived a little early and had been reviewing the duty roster for the day. He normally left this to the discretion of the Executive Officer, but it was only in the last few days that he'd taken a real interest in where and what people were assigned to. He had no plans to interfere, but just wanted to keep his fingers on the pulse of the ship as they prepared to enter the zone.

Looking up to face the woman who just greeted him, Harvey set down the PADD and rose to his feet. "Counselor," he greeted, gesturing to a nearby chair. "Glad you could make it."

"Thank you for inviting me," Avery replied sincerely as she sat. "I miss chatting with you like this, and it does give me an excuse to eat a decent meal," she added with a chuckle.

"Not eating properly leads to malnutrition and various... other deficiencies," Harvey was quick to point out. He, of course, was perfectly aware that she was joking, but it felt good to play along. "And, you are welcome."

"It's nice to know you care, sir," she replied with sincerity after a chuckle. "So," she said switching gears, "how are you?"

"Well enough," Harvey answered, picking up his fork to cut off a piece of the syrupy toast. "I'm back to the days of watching and waiting for the dawn, trying to prepare for the troubles it will bring. You?"

Avery smiled. "You may be surprised to know our work is very similar in that regard. Still, it isn't all about to anticipating troubles, is it? Married life, I'm told, is wonderful, especially the lives of the newly married."

"It is indeed," Harvey confirmed. "Of course, expecting a pair of infants in the middle of the next year puts an interesting twist on things."

Avery's face lit up. "That is wonderful news! Congratulations to you and please tell Joey the same for me." Of course, part of the counselor's job was to be aware of the whisperings of the rumor mill, although Avery needed to take any news From there with a grain of salt. "How are you feeling about all of this, besides, I'm sure excited? These are big steps forward for you both." Avery wondered if she would have a chance to congratulate Joey in person. Joey had never gone out of her way to avoid Avery, but the two of them had not formed a relationship beyond the professional. She couldn't help but feel a twinge of regret over that now if only selfishly because being around expectant mothers and babies made her happy and hopeful for her own future. In addition, Avery imagined pregnancy could be stressful enough while juggling a career, let alone being pregnant with two babies.

"We are both very excited," Harvey replied. "I'd never seen myself as a father. Alison and I had talked about it... once I think, but those discussions were never able to come to fruition thanks to the war. I find, lately, that I've been longing for parenthood the more I think about it though."

Avery smiled. "I'm really happy for you. Sometimes we don't even know what we're missing until we get it. I'll speak to her, of course, but how is Joey feeling?"

"Pregnant," Harvey replied with a smile, reaching for a glass of juice. "She's not uncomfortable yet. Though most of that happens in the third trimester, with twins, I have a feeling that discomfort's going to come all too soon. Morning sickness is rampant though. Can't be anywhere near coffee at this point, sadly. Maybe in a couple months I can give it another shot."

Avery murmured in sympathy as Harvey discussed Joey's challenges with pregnancy. She had never been pregnant herself, but could imagine at least some of the discomfort. The counselor hated to be nauseous more than any other potential ailment and couldn't imagine how she would cope with having to deal with such a feeling every day, let alone several times a day and unexpectedly. "I'm not sure there's any scientific validity to it, but I think I read somewhere, the more nauseous the mother is, the more secure the pregnancy since the nausea is related to the increase in hormones. Of course," she added with a grin, "that's no comfort when you're trying not to lose your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I'm sure. Is there anything I can do to make things easier for you or for her? I know Joey and I aren't exactly is there anything I can do to make things easier for you or for her? I know Joey and I don't know each other all that well, and I wouldn't want to pry, but I am here to listen to you both if ever you need it."

In point of fact, Avery had been helping out in medical whenever she could just so she could be of more immediate use in emergencies, but she also had to admit it was nice to attend to more routine matters, and pregnancy was certainly the happiest of those.

"I'll definitely keep that in mind," Harvey said, making a mental note. "As for currently making things easier, I'm unsure of anything off the top of my head, but you'll be the first to know when I do. How's the crew doing?" he asked, changing the subject and beginning the business portion of their meal.

"Fairly well," the counselor replied. "We've all been through our fair share of trauma and conflict, and I won't deny we are all still coming to terms with things, but the one thing I can say is that we've all become quite resilient out of necessity. The people that are here are committed to our mission and respect you as their commanding officer. We've come through the fire together and that has created a sort of resolve amongst a lot of us." She smiled then, offering, "Of course, not everyone confides in the shrink, and indeed, some folks go out of their way to avoid just that, but I'm doing what I can to remind people my doors are always open."

Harvey paused for a moment. She was not the first in the last few days to indicate that the crew looked up to him. Perhaps that's what made it so difficult about the strange message from the future. Though there were many new faces, there was an uncanny resolve and camaraderie among the crew, especially its senior staff which had spent so much time together. He should be able to trust those around him, but there had to be an excellent reason why he sent himself that warning. "I'm sure everyone will, in time," he said to Avery, with his statement holding some sort of unspoken affirmation to himself that he should, indeed, share what he knew with at least one other person he trusted. Whenever I figure out who that person is, he thought.

Avery smiled. "Time and more regular breakfasts with you, I'm sure. The more the crew sees you with me, the more I will seem OK," she teased. Noticing he seemed to be deep in thought, Avery offered, "Is there something else on your mind? I may not have telepathic or empathic abilities as such, but I can't help but think you're holding something back."

She was intuitive, Harvey knew, but he was not at liberty to be forthcoming. "Just thinking about the mission at hand and getting through it. Hopefully, when we're done, we'll actually be able to do some exploring."

Avery held his gaze, trying to discern whether he was dismissing her because he didn't want to talk about it or because he couldn't. Her instincts weren't perfect, but his response only made her more certain there was something he wasn't telling her. For a brief moment, she wondered if he just didn't want to talk about it with her, which was also a distinct possibility. There were certainly people he was closer to aboard ship. Then again, they were having breakfast together, so there was that. She decided to let it go for now. "Some exploration would be very nice. I've spent far too much time in sickbay either preparing for wounded or treating them, not to mention helping you lot deal with the aftermath," she added with a gentle smile. "You certainly like to keep a counselor on her toes."

"In most cases, I would take that as a compliment," Harvey reached for his drink. "However, since I've never been a fan of conflict, much less the situations we find ourselves in, I'll have to pass. If anything, we're just getting better about climbing out of the holes we find ourselves in." That was, all situations aside from his last command plummeting to the surface of New Bajor.

His choice of words couldn't help but spark the therapist in her. "How is all that sitting with you? I know how it has affected me and I know how it's affected the crew on good days and bad days, but having to choose to be resilient regularly in the face of all that's been lost as the man in charge must be hard..." At some point, how could he not take the challenges personally? It was as natural as it was irrational, but feelings often were.

"I don't internalize it anymore," Harvey replied. It wasn't a complete lie as he was indeed getting better about not keeping everything inside. Nevertheless, overcoming obstacles had become synonymous with the uniform he wore. If it still bothered him, we would have quit after fleeing Betazed.

"I don't imagine you'd get away with that for too long at home," Avery replied with a smile, pushing her fork around her plate. "I've heard parenthood has a way of changing people in that regard as well. Babies make us appreciate feelings in a way we've never had before and also makes us fiercer at the same time. Still, none of us are invincible, and it's good for kids to know that too. The buck may stop with you, but you must know we're here to support you every step of the way."

Harvey nodded, adding, "I appreciate that," before taking another sip of his beverage. Joey was only a few weeks along, and showing, but it would still be several months before she would actually give birth. "And hopefully, when the babies arrive, we'll be through with this mission and be able to raise them in familiar areas, not on the fringe."

"I do hope for the same, though I did wonder, if nothing seems to change with regard to our missions, have you and Joey thought about what you will do? Parenting aboard a starship can be done, I know, but this particular ship seems to find its share of danger."

"We've talked about it," Harvey said. "But I don't think the civilian life is our style. Our shore leave was nice, but we both were grateful for the recall. Outside of the uniform, for me, life is rather dull."

Avery chuckled. "I can relate. Although there was a time when I would call my life anything but dull and I wanted nothing more than to have a regular family life." Avery's childhood was no picnic, and that was an understatement considering the abuse she witnessed and what eventually happened to her mother and father.

"Life does need a little bit of spice, doesn't it?" Harvey supposed. He looked down at his plate, only to realize that it had been emptied. "I suppose this means it's time to start the day," Harvey said to Avery. "Did you have anything else on your mind you need to share before we conclude?"

Avery looked down at her own plate and noticed her food was gone as well. Looking up, she grinned, "I guess it is that time. I can't think of anything else I need to speak to you about, but if I think of something, I'll be sure to send you a message. Everything good on your end?" She was giving him one last opportunity to share what was on his mind, at the same time understanding if he was going to say anything, he would've done so already. He was not an impulsive man.

"I suppose so," Harvey replied. "Seeing how that's the case, I wish you a good day, counselor." With a nod, Harvey arose from his chair, nodded a farewell at Avery, leaving her alone in the mess.

Avery sat for a moment longer, reflecting on the interaction the two had shared. She wished there was more she could do to ease his burden, but it was also true she could only help with concerns she knew about. The reality of command, and indeed the reality of working with some people, was there would always be times when sanity or safety required acting as an island. She took comfort in knowing Harvey and the crew weren't entirely closed off.

 

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