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It's Not Easy

Posted on 26 Mar 2017 @ 2:58am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Commander Thiago Teixeira
Edited on on 02 Apr 2017 @ 9:08pm

Mission: Endgame
Location: New Bajor
Timeline: MD17 : 1700

Upon their arrival at the hospital at New Bajor, the doctors at the hospital had immediately sprang into action and helped the Black Hawk medical crew take care of the critical patients. Once that was done, the hospital staff insisted that the crew of the Hawk get some rest as most of them were dead on their feet and there were more than enough doctors at the hospital to help the rest of the patients.

So finally, Jayla had relented and ordered her doctors and nurses to stand down. They'd been shown to a mostly empty wing of the hospital where there were beds and sofas up for grabs. After making sure that her staff were taken care of, Jayla had gone to find a quiet place where she could be alone for a few minutes, which turned out to be a little-used stairwell where she sat with her back against the wall.

And she wept. She cried for the realization that not only had she been put in a position to choose between life and death, but she'd actually made the choice. It didn't matter that her choice had been almost immediately negated and the man in question was going to be fine. She'd still had to make the choice and the realization that she could remain objective and do it absolutely crushed her.

She cried for lost friends she'd been unable to save. Jarvith Adan came to mind first, as she'd known him best. She had panicked about leaving the symbiont behind until Nurse Lane showed her that she'd grabbed the stasis pod before they'd beamed down. There were so many other names that had been left behind in the morgue that her mind shuddered from the thought.

When she had finally cried herself out, she decided that she had better deal with this Belar problem. Even though the wormhole was now open, she doubted she'd be able to get back to Trill anytime soon. She had to get this worked out.

And so, she delved into Gavara’s memories. She raced passed images of herself as a child and instead focused on her work as a psychiatrist with the symbiosis commission.

She quickly found the answers she was looking for. Apparently, there was a rare mental defense mechanism referred to as memory transplanting. Typically, hosts are influenced by the personalities of previous hosts. Sometimes, when the previous hosts personality is so vastly different from the current host’s personality, the host’s mind rejects the actions they had just performed or words they had just spoken and shoves them into a corner, making it seem as if the previous host had taken over briefly when in reality, the host’s mind simply will not accept that they could do or say something so different from their nature.

Jayla showed all the signs of memory transplanting and exactly zero signs of a previous host taking over. In relief- and also because Gavara’s memories were painful as she had known Gavara in life- she began to weep again.

=====

The Black Hawk now gone, Thiago was without a home. Sure he had his apartment back in Curitiba, but he wasn't sure he wanted to head back to Earth. His family would, undoubtedly, be concerned if/when they found out about his reassignment to the Black Hawk and its loss. He Hadn't been able to secure a room on DS11, and instead had taken up lodging on New Bajor. Starfleet had sent a sizable team to process all of the Gamma Quadrant officers and crew. The Consortium had locked down the quadrant and, understandably, some folks back on Earth were concerned that the threat was still eminent. He was due for his first interview in the morning with some investigators from Starfleet Security. In the meantime, he was trying to check in on the Black Hawk's crew that was on New Bajor.

And so he was in the hospital. Through the corridors he walked, hoping to locate more of his now-former crewmates. He passed a door and paused. This area of the facility was empty, yet he could hear a noise.

Breathing.

No.

Crying.

He slowly moved closer to the door, trying to figure out the source of the person in trouble.

Now standing right in front of the door, the crying was the loudest thus far.

He touched the door control.

"Jayla? Is that you?"

At the sound of the voice, Jayla immediately started dashing away the tears. "I'm okay," she said quickly. "I'm all right. It's just... it's relief. Mostly. I'm fine." She looked up and recognized the face of the Black Hawk's XO. "Commander," she said, partly in surprise as she wiped more tears from her cheeks. "How- how are you?"

He looked down at the Trill physician. "At this point, I'm..." He paused, realizing her didn't actually know how he was. "I guess I'm doing well, considering," he finally answered. It was the honest answer. He was an officer without a ship. An Exec without a Captain, even.

He thought about offering Kij a hand, to help her up, but decided to lower himself onto the floor beside her. "How are you?" he asked. "Honestly."

She glanced over at him. She wanted to pretend that she was fine, but she sat here probably with red puffy eyes and tear stains on her cheeks, feeling like death warmed over and she knew he would never believe her. "I'm..." she started, then faltered. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I'm broken," she said in a tiny, frightened voice. "I've had to do things I never wanted to do before and that I never want to do again. It's-" she had to stop as the tears threatened to fall again. "I don't know how to handle it," she finished.

He put an arm around her. "Do you want to talk about it?"

She hesitated. She really did want to talk about it, but she didn't want to burden people with her problems when they had their own. "I..." she started. "You don't mind?" she asked, giving him a chance to get out of it if he really didn't want to listen.

Thiago gave Jayla a gentle, inviting smile. "Of course not. I mean, I'm not counselor.....but I've been told I'm a decent listener."

She gave him a weak smile. "All right," she sighed. "If you're sure. First, I think I may have killed someone. It was when we went to Razmena to try to get information on where the Confederation may have taken you. I mean, it was self-defense and he may not have been dead, but... he sure looked like it."

Unsurprisingly, Teixeira hadn't had time to review the logs from the time he had been captured. Things had moved along pretty quickly in his time on the Black Hawk. "That sounds stressful. But you said it was self-defense. Sometimes that happens. You have to defend yourself."

"It doesn't make it any easier," she replied. "It's like... it's like knowing that I'm capable of- of taking a life. Even if I know he was planning on taking mine." She shook her head. "I guess that's what counselors are for," she finished. "But, the worst part came after. It's difficult to explain, but I thought one of Kij's previous hosts was taking over. It turns out I was wrong, but it caused a lot of stress worrying about it. I snapped at people and- oh, God! I was so horrible to Lieutenant Corwin! And the Captain!" She groaned and buried her face in her hands. "And they probably think I'm upset about their relationship!" she finished.

Relationship? "I'm sure they've had other things on their minds. And I suspect they'd be more forgiving than you think."

"I'll have to talk to them and explain," she said. They didn't sound like fun conversations, though. "Anyway," she said with a sigh. "I can't think about that just now. That's the least of my worries." She paused. "Just before abandon ship, a young ensign came into Sick Bay. I was trying to patch him up, but there was internal bleeding that I couldn't find. I knew it was going to take far too long to get him sorted and that in the time it took me to do that, ten more people could die who would be must easier to treat. I- I had to make the call... to... to let him...." she stopped to swallow hard. "To stop treating him," she finished. "I've never had to make that call before. To just let someone... to let them go." Tears welled in her eyes again. "I mean, I know it didn't matter," she continued. "We got him to the hospital here and he's all right now, but... But, that doesn't make me feel better."

"But he's fine now," Thiago reminded her. "Part of being a doctor is knowing when to give up. You can't save everyone. That's not your fault." He gave her shoulder a squeeze. "But he survived. You can't dwell on it."

"I know," she replied. "I know. But, it's just the fact that I had to make the decision. It's the first time I've ever done that." Without even thinking about it, she laid her head on his shoulder. "I mean, I've done it in simulations, but in reality, it's a hard call to make."

"It had to happen sometime." He knew the words wouldn't be that reassuring, but it felt like the right thing to say regardless. "There was no way you'd go your whole career and never have to make a call like that. The fact that it took this long is impressive."

"Well, I've never actually been in a combat situation before," she replied. "I mean, even when we went up against the Cochran and the Chimera, there was time to patch everyone up. Nobody was so far gone we couldn't save them unless they were already gone. Adan was alive when he was brought into Sick Bay, but he died soon after. I didn't even have to call it for him."

Thiago considered the doctor's words. "How have you managed to avoid combat this long?"

"Well, there's been skirmishes and things," she admitted. "You know, misunderstandings with the Ferengi or Klingons or some colony taking offense at our orbit. Things like that. But there was always time to get everyone back on their feet. What I meant was that I've never seen battle like that- where multiple ships are destroyed and the wounded are piling up and there's some that I knew I couldn't get to. That's the sort of conflict I've never experienced. And even if I had, I wasn't CMO at the time, so it wouldn't have been me who decided to let someone go."

He remembered his own experiences coming up through the ranks. He'd been through the suspension of the Khitomer Accords and the Dominion War, in addition to several minor conflicts. For part of the Dominion War, he was an intelligence analyst performing signal and sensor analysis. Based, in some small part, on his reports, decisions were made about fleet actions. He hadn't thought about it at the time, but once he'd transitioned into command, some self-reflection had opened his eyes to the fact that people had likely died because of something he wrote. Even though he hadn't been the one to kill those people, nor had he given the order that led to it, the people who did give the orders made those decisions based on information he'd provided.

"But you are the Chief now," he said. "Do you think you'll feel different the next time this happens? This is likely to happen again."

She wrinkled her nose and made a sound halfway between a grunt and a groan. "I hate to think I'll ever get used to making that decision," she replied, head still leaning on his shoulder. "But, I suppose I'll have an easier time dealing with it afterwards."

"You're a Lieutenant Commander. A department head and senior officer. With that, comes responsibility. And sometimes, that means you have to be able to make the tough calls." He looked up, the stairwell raising up the 6 floors of this hospital wing. "It doesn't get easier. Unfortunately. But you do learn to stop second-guessing yourself."

"That's good to know," she said, sounding tired even to herself. "I just can't get that ensign's face out of my head. I keep thinking, 'it was up to me to decide if he should live or die and I decided that he should die'." She sighed, lifting her head to look at him. "I just hope he never finds out," she said, the very thought making her sick to her stomach.

"What if he does?" Teixeira asked. "What would happen?"

"I- I don't know, I- I would hope he would understand," she replied. "I would have to apologize. I would... I don't know, really. I just hope he could forgive me."

"Forgive you for what?" He turned his head to look at her again. "You made a judgement call. Welcome to the life of a senior officer. Do you think that you made, with the information you had at the time, the best decision?"

She opened her mouth to reply, but closed it again. Had she? If they had not been ordered to abandon ship, she would have had to answer to all those people who were waiting in Sick Bay. And had she not left the ensign, many of them may have died while waiting for her to finish with him. Her shoulders straightened involuntarily. "Yes," she said with confidence.

"That's what matters."

She gave him a weary grin, but an honest one. "Thanks," she said. "Were you a counselor in another life?"

For the first time in he last couple of days, Thiago laughed. "No. Thankfully." He pushed himself up off the ground and offered her a hand. "You need a drink."

"That's probably a great idea," she agreed, still sounding exhausted, but she accepted his hand and allowed him to pull her off the floor. "A drink. And then sleep." So, off they went to see if they could find a pub.

 

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