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Pulling Teeth

Posted on 01 Nov 2017 @ 1:33pm by Lieutenant Sterek & Lieutenant JG Jennin Rhula

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Sickbay
Timeline: MD 5 || 1100h

Dealing with the da Gama personnel - not to mention the resultant case notes, referrals, discharge forms and other associated paperwork - had taken up a lot of Sterek's time over the past few weeks. This morning, he realized with some consternation that he was merely on time with most of his routine checks, rather than early, and while he was not strictly annoyed by this, he did make a mental note to adjust his schedule accordingly. Such irregularities should not be allowed to continue if he could help it.

It was this reasoning which found the Vulcan working an hour past the end of his shift, organizing six months' worth of medication reviews and prescription renewals for the whole crew in the hopes that it might eventually help him to catch up to his previous working pace. When Dr Jennin passed the desk, he glanced up momentarily, cursorily noting the Bajoran's presence before returning his attention to his work.

"I plan to be at least another forty-one minutes, Doctor, unless my presence is causing an impedance to you." Sterek swiped right over his console, from one month to the next, and then sat back abruptly, as if realizing something. "Are you currently occupied?"

Stopping, Rhula turned towards the Vulcan. "This replicator is better than the one in Pathology," he said, holding up his steaming mug. Normally, he would have escaped quickly, but, surprisingly, there were no Trill present. As such, he saw less need in fleeing. "And you?"

"Actually, I am due my quarterly dose of antivirals and an equipment sign-off on the emergency supply." There was almost something apologetic in the Vulcan's tone. "I had intended to ask the CMO at the beginning of my shift, but there was an urgent matter which diverted my attention."

I shouldn't have stopped, the Bajoran thought. Next time, Rhula, just keep walking. "Urgent?" he asked, his voice betraying his disinterest in the conversation.

"Disruptive, rather than serious. Abrupt onset of projectile emesis in one of the enlisted Security officers, requiring myself and two others to change our uniforms." It had been quite impressive, actually. The patient had managed to achieve considerable height and force. Sterek decided not to share this observation with Rhula, knowing that non-Vulcans could tend toward the squeamish.

"Thrilling," Jennin said dully. "I have samples running. I should get back to them."

"You misunderstand me." If Sterek sensed the brush-off, he was ignoring it. "I was soliciting assistance, rather than attempting to make conversation. Although we can continue to make 'small talk' if such is necessary for you."

"You should work on your delivery," Rhula suggested.

He quirked an eyebrow, the Vulcan equivalent of a shrug. "I am able to wait."

"I'm not familiar with your....situation, so I'm not the best person to ask," the Bajoran admitted, adjusting his glasses. "Besides, I don't see live patients. One of the perks of being a pathologist."

"It is a five-minute task, Lieutenant, and the only reason I cannot address it myself is that Starfleet regulations require another individual to sign off." Sterek returned his attention to the screen. "Nevertheless, since I sense that you have more important matters to attend to-" Here he gave the replicator a significant glance- "I will not waste more time in attempting to convince you."

Perhaps Vulcans ARE as obnoxious as Trill, he thought. "Show me your file, Lieutenant," he said, crossing to the desk where the other physician sat. He raised his mug to his face, letting the minty aroma pleasurably invade his nose. "If I'm going to sign off on something, I want to review your file first." He paused. "Procedure or something."

If Sterek experienced the urge to roll his eyes, he resisted it. After briskly loading his file onto a PADD, he handed it over and returned his attention to his own screen.

Rhula scrolled through the Vulcan's history. It was....surprising. He hadn't encountered, as best as he knew, Vulcans with recurring psychiatric issues. And certainly none in Starfleet service. He handed the PADD back to Sterek and paused for a moment before walking, silently, to a supply cabinet. Withdrawing a hypospray, he loaded the vial of the serum from the medical record and offered it to the physician. "Here."

Once it was clear Rhula was heading to the supply cabinet, Sterek stood up and opened the three small boxes of emergency antivirals; one for his room, one for sickbay, one for away team missions, a legal requirement in case he was evacuated or stranded for an extended amount of time. They'd already been scanned and tested this morning, and he doubted the Bajoran would want to do the whole lot again just for completeness, but it was always better to be prepared.

He took the hypospray from him and pressed it quickly against the side of his own neck, then offered him the sign-off PADD. "Thank you," he said quietly, expression neutral, as usual. Rhula's silence was not unexpected. Sterek had experienced a number of different reactions to his medical history over the years, from pity to disbelief to skepticism about his fitness for duty. Perhaps the pathologist would avoid the subject entirely from now on. He didn't seem easy to read.

"There is no need to thank me," the Bajoran said quietly. "Even if I do prefer working with the dead, I am still a physician. And I take my duty as a medical practitioner seriously." He entered his signature code into the PADD Sterek held out towards him. "Anything else I can help you with?" he asked, looking the Vulcan differently than he had before. Now that he had gotten this glimpse into the other doctor's personal challenges, Rhula would always see the Vulcan with new eyes. Rhula rarely allowed himself to get emotionally invested in others. Living through the Occupation had a lot to do with that; you never knew when someone or something you cared about would fall victim to a spiteful Cardassian.

"Negative. I should allow you to return to your work." Sterek withdrew the PADD. He moved to close the emergency cases again, and set one aside to bring back to his quarters. "As stated previously, I shall be remaining here for some time before I leave. If you require any assistance, please inform me." Sterek tended to consider shift end times more of a guideline than a rule.

Perhaps his initial assessment of Rhula had been uncharitable; the man seemed almost sympathetic now, in comparison. He wondered whether the pathologist saw echoes of his own experience in Sterek's file. Rhula seemed about the right age to remember the Occupation, or if not, he would almost certainly have seen its effects. Some kinds of pain were universal.


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