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Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | USS Theurgy] attn: @Dumedion

V’lana grit her teeth and used her healthy arm to protectively cradle its counterpart against her body. When several containers and their cargo had come loose and threatened to pin her underneath it, she had operated on instinct rather than strategy, and the sensation of her skin tearing away had at best been an afterthought. Now, however, the searing pain demanded her attention, eclipsed her surroundings, and blurred her visions as tears teetered on the edge of spilling.

“Here, it will be better in a moment.”, said a disembodied voice. V’lana felt the cool touch of metal as a hypospray was pressed against her neck, and heard the familiar hiss that indicated the analgesic had been administered. As promised, the pain subsided within second, and the Elsarian’s vision cleared as she regained her composure.

V’lana exhaled in relief. She had been lucky. She realised that as her eyes drifted towards Lieutenant Emlott, who had become unresponsive as blood pooled underneath her mangled body, and then to the wall two the other nurses had been standing at. The place was now occupied by the towering container V’lana had only narrowly avoided. The crimson stains on the wall hinted at that the others had not. 

They had been friends, and V’lana felt a lump forming in her throat as feelings of relief, sadness, fear and anger collided with each other, and her vision once more became blurry. She willed herself to her feet, and stood for only a moment. Then, her legs gave in and she would have hit the floor if the man next to her didn’t catch her.

“Easy, doc.”, he said, evidently mistaking her for physician. Or simply using the term for any medical personnel. She wanted to thank him, but as V’lana opened her mouth, only a low groan escaped. 

Struggling, she swallowed hard and made another attempt, but once more was unsuccessful. 
Frowning - assuming she was managing the expression - she strained to lift her healthy arm. It didn’t move. 

Something had gone wrong. Horribly wrong.



When V’lana opened her eyes, a soothing darkness greeted her and for a moment, she thought she was back home. The thought was quickly dismissed as her mind registered the almost haunting sound of diagnostic tools that tickled through the room. No, this wasn’t home. This was Theurgy’s sickbay.

She must have fallen asleep, and her mind was taking a painfully long time to wake up.

The Elsarian turned her head to the side, where light emanated from a display panel that illuminated the silhouette of a figure in front of it, and spilled in patches onto the decking on either side.

V’lana vaguely believed to recognise the officer who seemed presently absorbed with assaying the information on one of his patients.

“Ex-.. cuse me.”, she croaked, her voice raspy as if she hadn’t used it for days. She tried herself to prop herself up on what she now noted was a biobed, and cleared her throat. “I’m… “


She had meant to say that she was sorry, but that didn’t make any sense.

Glancing down at herself, noticing the absence of a uniform, she realized in that moment that she wasn't at work. She was the patient.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #1
[LT Arven Leux | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
He stood next to the biobed with his arms folded over his chest, a finger extended to his chin in thought, as his eyes absorbed the data feed that scrolled across the console. Not for the first time, Arven marveled at the techniques and technological repercussions at what had been accomplished. With every every successful treatment came a mountain of relative paperwork – that was simply the nature of the beast – but without the insights gleaned from Vi-Nine’s unique construction, and Thea’s unparalleled computational prowess – none of this would have been possible. The patient, Ms. V’lana, a former NP that had been grievously mistreated months prior, had yet to regain consciousness; however, the fact that she still drew breath was nothing short of a medical miracle.

“I imagine McCoy would be shitting himself right about now,” Arven smirked at the Chief Surgeon, breaking the silence between them.

Vi-Nine jolted, taken aback by the comment. “Oh dear! Whatever for?”

Arven chuckled, then bounced his brows at the droid. “I’m kidding, Vi. Consider it a compliment of the highest order; McCoy was a pioneer, probably the greatest medical mind humanity has ever known – despite his quirks. Trust me and take it as such.”

“Oh my,” Vi-Nine folded her hands behind her posterior in a rough simulacrum of bashfulness. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you, Dr. Leux.”

The dark haired Trill chuckled again, nodding. “Well earned, Vi. Every life we save out of cryo is another leap ahead in treating others of similar conditions. Someday, maybe, we’ll figure out a way to do it without putting them in the icebox first – but in the meantime, please collate the techniques and data into Thea’s memory matrix for preservation. Once this mission is complete, and we are free to uplink back to Starfleet, I imagine we’ll have quite the tale or two to tell.”

“Of course,” the droid’s central ocular unit winked, “I’ll see to it right away. Oh, this is the data you requested for the patient, I do hope she takes it well,” she added, handing over a PADD, which Arven accepted with a nod.

“Excellent work, Vi,” he winked back with a slight curl of his lips as he took the tablet, then turned his attention back to the console as the Surgeon strolled away in a drone of servos. For the next several minutes while he waited for the anesthetics to wear off, Arven studied the procedure used to treat the complete neuro-automic collapse that basically resulted in the patients complete nervous system failure, trying to wrap his head around how Vi-Nine had even conceived of it, when the tell-tale bio-signs of imminent somnolence alerted him to Ms. V’lana’s return to the waking world. He didn’t catch what she tried to say as he turned to face her, but met her flickering golden eyes with a reassuring curl of his lips.

“Welcome back. I’m Arven, I’ll be you’re tour guide to reality. How are you feeling?”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #2
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion

How was she feeling?

A good question. An expected question, and one that resulted in what V’lana supposed to be the expected response.

“I am fine, thank you for asking.”, she said, her voice gradually shedding its hoarseness.

It was also the best answer V’lana could come up with. As she mentally surveyed her body for any pains and aches, she could feel nothing out of the ordinary.  At most, there was a faint soreness in her muscles and a slight dizziness. Nothing to be concerned about, and nothing to concern the doctor with - especially nothing that belonged in the foreground when the ship faced such precarious circumstances, requiring all hands on deck.

But then, in the current stillness that enveloped this section of sickbay in equal measures to the relative darkness, things seemed surprisingly calm. Comforting even. For the first time in months, everything seemed alright. A sense of safety from which V’lana did not yet know if it was deceptive.

 “… And I appreciate you dimming the lights. Not many would think to do it. Thank you.” 

Life outside her homeworld had become familiar to V’lana, but her preferences remained unchanged. The idea of waking up to the blinding cold lights that usually illuminated her workplace was entirely unappealing.

She turned her attention to the Trill who had introduced himself as Arven.

Despite the relatively low lighting, V’lana could discerned every single detail on the doctors face - the subtle curve of his mouth, his high cheekbones casting a gentle shadow, and the warm, chestnut-brown hair framing his features.
V’lana did not recognise him, but then, matching faces to names, and names to people she knew, wasn’t one of her strong suits.

“How are the others? I saw Lieutenant Emlott getting injured, and I saw…”, she paused and drew in a sharp breath. Amidst the fuzzy and almost surreal surroundings, the memory of groaning metal and the container sliding towards the wall faster than anyone could react, were crisply etched into her mind. 

Her gaze returned to Arven. "I think I would like the... tour, yes," she said with a tentative smile. "The last thing I recall is the cargo bay and injuring my arm.”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #3
[LT Arven Leux | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
Once he was satisfied with V’lana’s vitals, Arven keyed in the command to retract the bio-bed’s operating table from over her torso while she spoke. Her appreciation earned a nod as he reached for a glass of water and handed it to her as he brought up a PADD in the other hand.

“She’s fine – just around the corner in the ICU with a patient, I think,” he replied hesitantly, trying to remember if he truly had seen Emlott earlier. Personally, they weren’t exactly close or really anywhere near it, which was entirely Arven’s fault due to his issues with Cardassians. Professionally, he knew enough about her to know that she was a highly competent Doctor, and stayed out of his peripherals. All well and good in his book. “I can’t say for sure on the ‘others’ you mentioned without specifics,” he added quietly, then took a breath and waved the tablet in his hand a bit. “Some...heavy reading...on here, for you to peruse at your leisure for the next couple of hours – standard procedure, you understand – just for observation.”

Shadowed movement beyond the screen caught his attention then; Arven moved to accept the bundle of clothing delivered with a nod to the orderly, and set the neatly folded pile at V’lana’s bare feet. “Room service,” he nodded with a slight curl of his lips, trying to add some levity to the situation. He couldn’t really fathom what it must be like to suddenly wake up from such an extended amount of time, and was trying his best to alter his usually crass and indifferent bedside manner accordingly.

“I’m sure you have a million questions,” he dipped his head slightly with a shrug. “Before you dig into everything you’ve missed, lets get the basics out of the way first, hm?” He proceeded to tell her of the ship’s current location and status; holding anchor in high orbit of Qo’noS undergoing repairs and ‘shore leave’- though the latter hardly kept folks out of sickbay for all manner of seemingly ridiculous injuries. “You’ll have a minimum of three days recovery time to get settled in before you’ll report to duty – after another follow-up exam with either myself or another ACMO – again, standard procedure. Your personal effects should be in storage; you’ll have to get up with Chief Savali’s office on deck 10 to get your room assignment. I’d recommend you petition for someplace on this Vector, as the ship does split up into three pieces, or so I’ve been told.”

"The...fatigue should wear off relatively quickly. If you feel up to eating, we can bring you something to snack on while you rest." Conscious of the fact that he might be overloading her with too much information, Arven gave her the opportunity to process and ask any other questions she might have.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #4
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion

V'lana took a moment to absorb the information, her mind slowly catching up with the reality of the situation, and the potential repercussions. She nodded appreciatively at Arven's professionalism and the effort he was putting into making her feel comfortable - she knew enough Doctors who almost prided themselves with their horrible bedside-manner and their inability to display interest for the mental wellbeing of their patients in addition to the medical puzzle their condition offered. 

Taking the glass of water, she sipped it slowly, allowing the cool liquid to soothe her dry throat.

"Thank you, Doctor," she began, her voice a bit hoarse from disuse. "I appreciate the update on the ship's status. It's a lot to take in after... being out of commission for so long."

She paused, a mixture of gratitude and uncertainty in her eyes.

“Is there any significant damage or changes to my physiology I should be aware of?" V'lana asked, her gaze shifting to the display with the medical readout that Arven had been assaying when she had woken up. It was a valid question, and it was an easy one. The prospect of catching up on everything she had missed felt both daunting and intriguing. 

The mention of shore leave and room assignment had reminded her that life on the ship had continued without her, and while she was eager to reintegrate into it, the prospect brought with it a tinge of anxiety. And so, instead of thinking about that, she embarked upon the much easier task of getting dressed. 

“And I would be interested in learning how you have figured out how to … ah, fix me, I suppose.”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #5
[LT Arven Leux | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
With a slight frown of confusion, Arven blinked in hesitation, momentarily distracted by the patient’s unique eyes. With the ambient lights dimmed below their normal operating range, he couldn’t help but notice them; everywhere V’lana looked was highlighted in a soft golden glow. He recovered quickly enough, but not before she sat up and slid off the side of the bio-bed in a rustle of fabric. He couldn’t help but catch more than a glimpse of skin as the Elsarian began to dress, even as he offered his back to her for a modicum of privacy.

“Ah, everything...uh, seems,” Leux cleared his throat, “to be right where it’s supposed to be,” he frowned at himself then consulted the control console to answer her second question; filling the brief silence between them with subdued beeps as his fingers tapped out commands.

“As for your treatment, I’m afraid you’ll have to bear with me as I’m still attempting to wrap my head around it. From what I can tell, it appears our illustrious Chief Surgeon, Vi-Nine, combined a form of micro-stasis therapy along with a series of genetic morphologic-enzyme cultures to essentially bypass the loss of neurotransmitters in every synapse of your nervous system; the stasis prevented further damage while the cultures took. Of course, your severe allergy to the culprit compound Altrogeneprin has been noted and flagged on your chart and updated into our files – so that wont be happening again any time soon,” he arched a dark brow over his shoulder at her without looking directly. “I trust our database beyond qualification, but I urge you to be extra cautious: a repeated exposure to said analgesic would likely prove fatal, rather quickly, so lets steer clear of it, yes?”

A few more taps into the console transferred the more exacting details of the entire procedure to V’lana’s PADD. “It appears Ms. Emlott had a hand in your recovery as well – I had no idea genetic sequencing was in her repertoire,” Arven’s brows bounced a bit as he read for another few seconds. “So that’s who’s been using up lab 2 for the past three days,” he grumbled to himself.

Once he was relatively certain she was dressed to an appropriate professional level, Leux returned his attention to V’lana with a slight curl to his lips as he nodded. “Looks like it fits,” he commented on her uniform, then cocked his head slightly. “Did that answer your question?”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #6
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion

V'lana listened intently, her brow furrowed as Arven explained the details of her treatment. The mention of the involvement of someone - or something? - called Vi-Nine's confused her, but the  utilization of genetic sequencing surprised her enough to forget her momentary confusion. This, she thought to herself, was a whole new level of “it’s complicated”. 

"Thank you, Doctor Arven. I appreciate the explanation," she replied, her tone sincere. As he commented on her uniform, she glanced down, adjusting it slightly to ensure a proper fit.

"Yes, that answers my questions for now. I suppose I have a lot of catching up to do," she added with a wry smile “Please extend my gratitude to both Vi-Nine and Lieutenant Emlott for their contributions to my recovery. I assume I'll be in touch with Chief Savali for my room assignment, then. Perhaps I can convince Sy-…”
She fell silent mid-sentence.

She had meant to say, only half joking, to recruit some of her closer friends on the ship to help her move things out of storage. Then she had remembered that she… wasn’t entirely sure those people were still around, and she was too scared to check the crew manifest. Her gaze turned to Arven, and she wanted to tell him exactly that. To express how confusing the situation was, and how there was so much more involved than getting dressed, getting housed, and going back to work.

But as she opened her mouth, those weren’t the words that came out. Because talking about feelings was difficult, and potential rejection so much easier.

“Once I got settled, and before I delve into the backlog of ship reports and updates, would you be interested in sharing a cup of tea or coffee later? I could use some company -  of course, only if you're not too busy with your duties. I imagine you have quite a demanding schedule in sickbay.”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #7
[LT Arven Leux | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
Even for someone who was -  admittedly - less-than-sociable at first glance, Arven didn’t miss the sudden pause in V'lana's reply, or the change in her tone. While he didn’t respond to it outwardly, it was not ignored, either. A nod followed the respectful wish to pass along her appreciation to Vi-Nine and Emlott while Arven finished closing up her file on the console with a few taps. Just as he was about to assure V'lana that he would do so at the next opportunity, the Elsarian asked about his availability for tea, which surprised Arven enough to make his brows bounce up into his hairline.

“Um, sure,” Leux answered as a question, “I mean, yes, of course,” he added quickly, then cleared his throat. “It’s perfectly natural to need company right now, and I wouldn’t worry about that,” he gestured to the ward. “This place is a revolving door, people are always coming and going, and the nurses and I will check in on you regularly. Couple of hours and you’ll be free to get settled,” he finished with another sympathetic nod.

“I um…well, this is only my second time greeting a patient from stasis. I was wondering if you had any feedback? The first was…well, there was a lot going on and it was…chaotic. I’d be interested to hear your evaluation, as a colleague. I’ve been told my bedside manner could use some work,”he shrugged, then hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should touch on what was likely a sensitive subject.

He could only imagine waking up from what might have only seemed like minutes or hours, then being bombarded with the worst news of your life.

“The thing is,” Arven shrugged again, “I’m still fairly new to the ship…and I…know what its like to lose people, too. If you’d like to inquire about friends or loved ones, I can do a quick search through our records for them, if it will help. I’ll just need their names – or I can just leave this open for your use and give you some privacy,” he nodded to the console. “Whichever helps most.”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #8
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion 

V'lana observed Arven with a measured gaze, appreciating his understanding demeanor.  As he inquired about her feedback, she considered her words carefully before responding, “I have no complaints about your bedside manner.”, she shrugged, then added with a lopsided grin “And I hope I am doing alright as a patient.” V'lana paused, then added “You wouldn’t be the first physician struggling with it, however. I’ve worked with a lot of doctors who solely focus on the problem at hand, rather than the person. But a welcoming presence is more valuable than you might think in these situations… well, most situation, really.”

Like these situations where you wake up from stasis and are not quite ready to resume being a person. 

Regarding the search for friends or loved ones, V'lana hesitated for a moment, the weight of potential loss lingering in her thoughts. Eventually, while she didn’t make a decision on the matter, she decided to share her thoughts. "I am not sure I’m ready for that yet. I don’t think I would be okay with the answer being they’re… well.” 

She didn’t need to finish the sentence. Instead, she focussed on something else. “You said you are new to the ship? How did that happen?” 

Considering that, as far as V’lana could anticipate their situation was, they weren’t exactly getting new graduates from Starfleet Academy, or transfers from other vessels.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #9
[LT Arven Leux | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
After accepting V’lana’s feedback with a returned smile and a nod, Arven clasped his hands behind his back once again as he listened. A momentary lapse allowed him to consider her words with an internal debate of sorts. Did he tend to focus more on the problem vs the patient? Well, one could argue they were one and the same thing, really. Did he use the same amount of effort to ensure a ‘welcoming presence’? Again, some might say the simple act of being tended to – regardless of the physician’s demeanor or attitude – was enough to provide a fair amount of relief in every sense of the word. Could he try harder? Of course, no one is above improvement, which is of course why I asked in the first place.

Arven hummed in thought, then quickly blinked to clear his head as V’lana continued.

“Of course,” the Trill gestured reassuringly, “I understand. The records will be available to you whenever you’re ready,” Arven nodded to the PADD still resting on the bed. “If you have any difficulty, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help,” he added sincerely, before resuming the task of clearing out the console for the next patient as she redirected the conversation with another question.

“Oh, I transferred from the Oneida with a handful of others a few weeks ago,” a shoulder lifted in a shrug at her expression. “Its...a long story. Short version is...we discovered the truth, and decided to help,” he nodded. “With everything this ships been through, well...we seemed to be of greater use here.”

Arven hesitated then, wondering if he might have made things worse for her as his thoughts turned briefly to his former ship and crew mates. He had no idea where they were, or how they fared; life had been...simpler, routine, on the Oneida – the past few weeks on the Theurgy seemed like a blur in comparison. He hoped she was still in one piece. With his work on the console finished, Arven tapped out a stand-by command and returned his full attention to the Elsarian with a slight smile.

“So, tea in a few hours? Maybe breakfast, too, if you feel up to it,” he asked hesitantly, “if...there’s anything else you need in the meantime, don’t hesitate to ring me or any of the staff, yes,” he added quickly, then waited to ensure she was comfortable before leaving her to settle in. This was the awkward part for him; he didn’t want to hover, but also didn’t want to appear too eager to leave – unfortunately, some patients took it the wrong way, no matter what his intentions were. In truth, if the roles had been reversed, Arven would only have wanted time and privacy to process everything that had just happened. With a cup of tea, perhaps, he mused, maybe pancakes, too.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #10
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion 

As Arven shared a bit about his recent transfer from the Oneida, V'lana couldn't help but feel a sense of camaraderie. Even if their journeys had clearly been different, the sense of upheaval, the discovery of truth, and the decision to help were experiences that resonated with her. She offered him a small smile, acknowledging the complexity of such a situation, and that it wasn't easily summarised - and perhaps even somewhat difficult to talk about . "It sounds like we've both found ourselves in the midst of unexpected changes," she remarked.

When Arven agreed to tea in a a few hours, V'lana's expression softened. "Tea sounds lovely, Doctor. I am looking forward to it.," she replied, a faint warmth touching her features. As he assured her of assistance and left her to settle in, V'lana couldn't help but feel a sense of relief and unease at the same time. Arven's genuine concern and offer of companionship had eased some of the tension that lingered within her, but she knew that there were things she would have to face on her own, and sooner rather than later.

Watching him leave with a slight smile, V'lana took a moment to gather her thoughts. She knew there was much to process, and even more to be done - and she was committed to do both when the time was right.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #11
[LT Arven Leux | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
[Two hours later]

Arven sat behind the duty officer’s desk, elbows propped up on the glossy black surface as he massaged his temples. Dr. Hernandez and Head Nurse Vojona stood before him, arms folded; they’d been dressing him down over an ‘apparent’ oversight for the past ten minutes – allegedly, Arven had skipped out on one to many Clinic rotations.

“It’s a little suspicious, is all,” Hernandez shrugged and glanced at the Ovri beside him. “We’ve been stuck on Clinic duty three out of the past four days. I mean…where do you go?”

“Barely got out of recovery before mine started,” Vojona croaked.

Arven sighed dramatically. “Okay you caught me; I moonlight as a gigolo – really eats into my time. So what,” he deadpanned. “Look, it’s boring; of course I’m going to find something better to do – RHIP, gentlemen. What are you even complaining about? You guys had what...two patients? Maybe three, in all that time? I could do that in my sleep – which is probably what you two were doing anyway.”

Hernandez laughed. Vojona didn’t. “That’s not the point. It’s in the job description, you know. You don’t get to skip out of it just because you don’t like it,” the Head Nurse frowned at him.

Arven scoffed, which sounded more like a snort. “Check the logs again. I pull my hours just like everyone else. Not my fault I’m better at it than you two combined.”

“This is pointless,” the Ovri nurse trilled, clearly aggravated. “I’m taking this to the CMO.”

Leux’ brows shot up with a mock look of surprise. “Bold – hope it works out for you. Really,” he deadpanned sarcastically, then stood up and shook his head at both of them. “You two want more time to polish each other’s ass or...whatever you do off the clock, fine – you can handle the schedule, and deal with all the joyful drama that comes with it. Have fun, best of luck,” he added over his shoulder.

Hernandez laughed as he shook his head. The Head Nurse rolled his bulbous eyes as he threw his hands up in disbelief. “That’s your job too – you can’t just keep pawning things off on other people!”

“Watch me. It’s called delegating,” Arven sneered at them over his shoulder as he walked away. “Someone has to teach you boys how to manage operations or you’ll be stuck as ensigns for life. I’ll expect the roster in the morning for review,” he waved to the pair, then headed towards Reception, lips curled at their grumbled whispers.

[Reception Area, Main Sickbay]

“Miss V’lana,” the curl of Arven’s lips broadened as he rounded the corner and saw the Elsarian, “good – I was just about to send for you,” the doctor’s eyes flicked up to the chrono on the wall, then back to hers. “I believe the Cafe above the Arboretum is open, and relatively quiet at this hour,” he shrugged. “If you’re ready to go.”

Given her circumstances, Leux was fairly certain she was – however, he also recognized the tell-tale signs of ‘post wake-up’ syndrome in her body language; uncertainty, anxiety, and more than a touch of fear. There were still a great many changes that she’d have to face; Arven watched her curiously, wondering how V’lana would handle them all. In the meantime, he opted to keep their discussion work related, away from the more life-altering revelations she probably still struggled with. Problem was, he wasn't sure what she'd like to discuss in that arena, either.

As they left Sickbay behind and entered the turbolift down to their destination, Arven tilted his head in thought; his particular style on interacting with his patients had been noticed and questioned several times - enough that a small kernel of doubt had grown within him that could become problematic if not dealt with. Who better to talk about it with than a colleague?

“How do you deal with lies,” he asked, apropos of nothing, almost casual. “With patients, specifically,”  he amended, after noting her reaction.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #12
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Recovery Ward | Main Sickbay| Reception Area | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion

V’lana was doing okay. And, given her circumstances, that was either really good, or, alternatively, pretty bad. The Elsarian had decided to focus on actionable rather than emotions, and had begun to work herself through a mental checklist of the things she had been advised to do. It kept her mind occupied, and each completed task - small as they were - gave her a sense of accomplishment and a little boost of confidence.

Ironically, it was the opposite of what she would advise any patient in her situation. In the role of a medical professional, she would have stressed the importance of self-care. She would have suggested counselling, conversation and catharsis. 

All of that was good advise, but now that she was not the nurse in charge but a patient, she had quickly realised that she was one of the “do as I say, not as I do”-people.

One of the things on her checklist was the meeting with Arven, and while it certainly was a tactic to escape whatever emotions would bubble to the surface once she got to slow down and rest, she was genuinely looking forward to it.

She greeted him with a smile and the initial touch that was customary for her species, and when he suggested the Cafe aboard the Arboretum, she not only agreed, but couldn’t quite deny that she was excited at being a normal person again - as opposed to a person in a stasis unit. Not that she had any memory of that, but retrospectively, the thought of having been stuck in a fancy coffin for several months wasn’t exactly thrilling.

As they left Sickbay behind and entered the turbolift, V’lana noticed that Arven seemed thoughtful. She, of course, didn’t know him well, but she would make a poor nurse if she didn’t manage to get a read on people. She was about to ask him about what was on his mind when queried V’lana’s opinion on lies.

“That’s a difficult question.”, she admitted thoughtfully, and after a short moment of consideration. “There are enough individuals who would propose that everyone lies, in one way or another. I think I agree with that. It starts with something as simple as ‘I’m fine ‘ when someone really is not.” 

The doors of the turbolift slid open, and they continued their way to their destination. 

“Lies conceal some kind of flaw or weakness, and it doesn’t matter whether it is real or perceived. Lying patients are particularly difficult - it’s tricky to help someone who creates a situation where you don’t have all the facts.”

She gave a slight smile. “Did you come across a specific situation where you were lied to?” And, after a brief pause, she added “And do you think the same patient would have lied to any other doctor as well?” 

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #13
[LT Arven Leux | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
Arven listened while they strolled into the Arboretum; V’lana’s response had elicited a fractional curl at the corner of his lips and a slight bounce of his eyebrows – both from amusement and agreement. Part of him applauded her apparent ease at deflection, yet another grew curious at her choice of words. Psychology was not his forte, but Arven liked to think he could spot a bullshitter when he saw one; like recognized like, after all.

The choice he debated with internally – while they walked through the impressive simulacrum of a park – was how far to probe. He had no intention of causing harm, yet couldn’t shake the instinctual deduction that the Elsarian was not quite as composed as she projected. Would I be any different? Arven’s lips pursed in thought, then he took a breath and shrugged.

“Well, there was this one time in school,” his brows rose as he tilted his head, voice laced with sarcasm. “A very pretty girl and her friend told me they liked me a lot, but they were only using me for food and sex. Can you imagine? The audacity,” his head shook with a smirk, briefly amused at himself and her reaction, but then his features and tone returned to a degree of professionalism.

“People lie out of fear,” Arven nodded, “whether they realize it or not. Fear of losing something, of consequence, of pain, change – fill in the blank,” he gestured. “Little white lies, as you mentioned, or big obese monsters; it’s all fear, and despite how far we’ve come in our field, people just keep lying – mostly to themselves.”

Here, Arven stopped to face her fully. “You, for example,” he met her eyes evenly; not unkindly, but perhaps more directly than was prudent. “I don’t know you and I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’ve seen what happens to people that go through hell and just…shoulder on. It works,” he shrugged, “for a little while, anyway. Then it doesn’t. Then you become…me, I guess,” the corner of his lips curled in self-deprecating amusement, followed by another shrug. “Up to you what you do; you know the drill,” he nodded to her – a gesture that he hoped would convey his respect and support.

He let that marinate for a few heartbeats, then took another breath and shoved his hands in his pockets.

“Come on then,” his head jerked to the side, his tone chipper. “Coffee and tea await. I’m craving a mocha for some reason,” Arven resumed his walk, leading them to the lift at the far side of the park and up to the Café, opting to return the conversation back to the original subject. “To answer your question – I’ve seen some weird cases in my short time on board, and yes, I’m fairly certain they all would have tried to spin the same tale regardless who the PA was – but that wasn’t really an answer to my question, was it?”

As they approached the lift, Arven gestured for her to enter as the doors slid open; his violet eyes studied her features intently. “Have I upset you?”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #14
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion 

V'lana listened intently as Arven spoke, smirked at his remark about being used for food and sex, but couldn't dismiss the weight his words carried as he turned toward her. It wasn’t an accusation, and the Elsarian had to force herself to acknowledge that, but it still stung a little. She didn’t enjoy being called out on her character flaws - then again, who did?

While she appreciated his candor, and his willingness to engage in conversation that went beyond mere pleasantries, she  inwardly she wrestled with the urge to deflect his observations.

"Upset? No, not upset," she replied, her voice calm yet carrying a hint of … something. "Perhaps... challenged, in a way. Or perhaps a little disarmed.”

For the moment, she opted to leave it at that. The ambiance they had entered was inviting, with soft lighting and the gentle hum of conversation filling the air. They settled into their seats, each taking a moment to absorb their surroundings.

V’lana leaned back in her chair, a relaxed smile playing at the corners of her lips. “I can’t remember having been here before. It’s nice, isn’t it? Almost makes you forget-… things. Doesn’t it?”

Things that encompassed not only V’lana’s struggles, but everything that was going on.

They ordered their beverages, and as they waited for them to arrive, V’lana leaned forward. “I … will admit that I might not be great at allowing myself time to process what happened. In particular the idea that a minor medical error ended with me in a stasis unit.” She sighed. “Are you always as lenient with yourself as you should be?”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #15
[LT Arven Leux | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
After V'lana's stoic response, Arven simply nodded and let the matter go; there was no need to press the issue. He had faith that the Elsarian would find her own path and seek her own assistance – if and when it was required. The lift ride up to the Café was spent in relative quite while they both admired the scenery.

Leux pursed his lips in thought, his mind rummaging through the tasks that awaited tomorrow; a default habit he'd developed from somewhere in his youth. Every day tasks, routine duty obligations, administrative boxes to check; he worked through half the list while the lift slowly rose. When the door slid open, he gestured for V’Lana to exit first before sliding into step alongside. The pair found a table near the balcony that looked over the park; the Doctor paused long enough to pull the Elsarian’s chair out for her, then seated himself – straight-backed, elbows rested on the table with his hands clasped. The Trill dipped his head in affirmation to V’lana’s question, but offered no comment, sensing she had more to say on the matter.

Once they had ordered, the Elsarian had leaned in with a confession – which didn’t surprise Arven – and touched on the circumstances of her internment in stasis along with a follow-up question. The Trill’s head tilted with a brief frown as he considered his answer; violet eyes drifted off to look over the greenery of the Arboretum – clouded with something that he had no wish to discuss.

“Not even slightly,” Arven admitted quietly, his tone devoid of the typical sass and sarcasm. He blinked then and redirected himself back to her, opening his hands in a kind of shrug.

“Given the circumstances, if I’d have been there, I’d like to think that wouldn’t have happened to you – but no one’s perfect; mistakes happen, especially in the thick of it. As an administrator, that individual would have been held accountable, along with myself. As a Doctor,” his head wobbled side to side a bit, “I sympathize for both of you. As a person, with my own twisted little ethics and morals, I view it as a hard lesson learned. Life is an indiscriminate trickster like that; none of us are ready when it decides to drop-kick us to the floor.”

Arven thanked the waitress after their drinks were delivered, lifting his cup of hot mocha to his lips and blew to cool the liquid. “I’m far more lenient with others,” his brows rose with the sarcastic addition, “mostly because I have to be in the name of self preservation. I do my job and move on. I don’t linger, I don’t bother with chit-chat or non-relative issues because that’s not why they come to see me – idiots that they are; which is a struggle in and of itself,” Arven sighed dramatically. “I’m such a people person though, and they can’t help being imbeciles.”

Like most good storytellers, Arven had mixed a little deception in with his truths, and left V’lana the choice to interpret his response however she chose. After another shrug, he took a sip of coffee, then placed the cup down to dab the whipped cream mustache from his lip.

“You, on the other hand,” Arven’s lips curled slightly, “I reckon you’re probably the polar opposite: overly attentive, nurturing – dutifully burdened with the weight of the patient’s problems,” his voice dripped with cynicism. “The ideal clinician, per the books. Sounds bloody exhausting,” he snorted, then leaned forward in mimicry of her earlier movement.

“Do try to pace yourself.”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #16
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion 

V’lana was beginning to enjoy the conversation. She was finding Arven an intriguing conversationalist, and while the Elsarian was usually good at accurately forecasting people’s responses, the twists and turns of the conversation made it an … interesting experience.

She didn’t mind the sarcasm, nor the cynicism, considering it rhetoric - more decoration than matter, more how Arven chose to say something as opposed to what he was saying.

He indeed struck her as a no-nonsense person, and he reminded her of Lt. Cmdr. Akiko Jurev, a formerly close friend who now most likely believed her to be a traitor. V’lana had not yet looked into the latest nonsense FNS was spouting about Theurgy’s crew, but she could guess that it wasn’t anything good.

When Arven stated that he supposed she was the polar opposite of him - attentive, overly nurturing and concerned with the wellbeing of her patients - she couldn’t help but laugh.

“You’re not wrong.”, she grinned, and sipped from her cup of tarkalean tea. For a moment, she enjoyed the tangy flavour and rich texture. Then her eyes settled on Arven. “But you’re not entirely correct either. It’s my job to be attentive to a patients needs, included those for emotional security and validation. But a professional distance is just as relevant. I suppose it’s more… sympathy than empathy, sometimes?”

She wasn’t sure if the comparison worked. Despite the several years she had now spent in a multicultural environment and speaking Federation Standard, she found herself not always able to express what she wanted to say.

“But I will admit I have a tendency for overdoing it.”, she admitted eventually. “Perhaps we should work together more closely from now on.  We’d probably neutralise each other’s extremes.”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #17
[LT Arven Leux | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales 
Leux nodded with a slight curl of his lips at V’lana’s admission and subsequent elaboration, surprised by neither, but amused by the Elsarian’s tolerance of him thus far. Holding her gaze easily while he took another sip of coffee, Arven returned to his earlier posture, then tilted his head at her follow up recommendation. The notion of working together seemed to be delivered in jest, which he appreciated, but that was already a foregone conclusion in the Trill’s mind; they would inevitably work closely – just as all the medical staff did – seeing as how they were vastly outnumbered by patient to personnel ratios. The smile on his lips broadened anyway.

“Of course,” Arven murmured with a slight nod. “I try to keep myself available for consults whenever needed,” his hands opened in another shrug like gesture, “and if it keeps me out of clinic hours, all the better.”

Arven blinked as a thought occurred, frowning as a brow raised.

“Reckon that’s a perfect fit for you, actually,” Leux nodded to V’lana, “battle-sickbay, Vector 3? Technically my stomping grounds per the org chart, but its normally used for walk-ins; someplace you could dive in and get your feet wet,” his head tilted side to side, “if you’re interested, of course.”

He honestly hadn’t had the time to plug her into the duty rotation, or check to see if the CMO had. Kobol was a busy man, after all, and Arven doubted he’d even heard about V’lana’s discharge; which was opportunity knocking, of course – but he wouldn’t let that get his hopes up.

“I suppose we’ll have to see where you land on the roster first,” Arven shrugged non-chalantly, then took another sip of coffee. “Well,” he snorted softly, “first and foremost, you need to get settled and take some time for yourself, like we talked about. Have you made any progress there? Got your room assignment at least,” his brows rose with the question.

“I’d be happy to assist,” a shoulder lifted, “for a small nominal fee,” he added with a smirk.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #18
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion 

Clinic Hours. They all hated them, didn’t they? Even V’lana, who usually wasn’t in the habit of judging people for what they perceived to be illness and injury, did not enjoy finding herself assigned to a doctor stuck on clinic duty.

She gave a knowing nod as Arven made the comment, and then considered his idea regarding Vector 3’s battle sickbay. She wasn’t entirely thrilled, but really, it wasn’t a bad idea. As much as she wanted to concentrate on her personal areas of interest - those being wound- and pain management - something considerably more easy was likely not unwise.

“I am pretty sure that I can be… landed on the roster in Vector 3. I mean, you hold all the power, roster-wise.”, she said matter of factly. “Otherwise I will just have to find Lieutenant Emlott and perhaps remind her of how I only ended up in stasis because I was saving her life.”

She grinned, and hoped that it was clear that this was more a joke than anything else. Mostly.

“And I am taking time for myself. Right now.”, she shrugged. “Even better - I am taking all sorts of measures to return to full capacity as soon as possible. For instance, I am having tea to prevent dehydration. I am talking to you for deprivation prophylaxis and to promote mental health.” 

She wondered if Arven had ever been responsible for someone’s mental health before, and if that was a good idea.

“But yes, I would like help - even for a small nominal fee.”, she gave a nod. “What did you have in mind?” 

V’lana sipped from her tea, momentarily wondering if she was ready to eat something, but not able to think of anything she would consider tempting right now.

“Well, you have warned me of your awful bedside manner, so I am not at all surprised to see you having ferengi-tendencies.”, she smirked, then leaned forward. “But do let me know if I should be expecting an invoice for your medical services.” 

Paid healthcare. What a ridiculous thought.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #19
[LT Arven Leux | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
It’s entirely possible that I’ve spent too much time around humans, Leux considered. When did sarcasm become so advanced that it is no longer recognizable as such? Clearly, he had pushed beyond that threshold without realizing it, or perhaps V’lana simply didn’t have much experience with it? Either way, he’d dug himself into a nice little hole; the question was, how to proceed?

His head and eyes lowered to stare into chocolate-colored depths of coffee while Arven considered V’lana’s words, tone, body language – along with what he had learned of the Elsarian thus far. His lips pursed slightly, almost a frown, while violet eyes shifted side-to-side with the speed of his thoughts; chewing on the moral conundrum he’d walked into oh-so-cheerfully. On one hand, of course it would be amusing and convenient for him to plug her into a shift that alleviated the need for Arven’s presence in the clinic – on the other, it set the precedence of labeling himself as an opportunist piece of shit that took advantage of his position and staff, seemingly without care or concern for their strengths, weaknesses or morale. Which, being honest about it, he did, but only when necessary.

Well, that’s just dickish, his lips curled slightly, but subtly and context matters, and this is different. Besides, she was wrong about one important detail anyway.

Ferengi-like tendencies,” Arven’s brow furrowed with amusement, but didn’t met her eyes; his voice and tone quiet but laced with a hint of self-depreciating humor. “That’s a new one. Well done,” he smirked back. “I’ll be sure to give you the employee discount. However, in regards to the duty schedule,” a shoulder lifted in a shrug, “I only make recommendations for approval, which are usually approved, mind, but that approval comes from the CMO, then finalized by the XO; a technical distinction – but one I feel necessary to point out, in my defense.”

He paused for a sip of coffee and once again lifted his gaze to hers with an open hand gesture.

“The point is I was only half-serious. I am assigned to Vector 3’s bay, though, if you have a preference for where you want to work and with whom, I would be remiss in my obligations to ignore that,” Arven shrugged again, “on top of being just a general shit person. I have flaws,” he nodded to the side in a theatrical manner, acknowledging the fact, “but I do try to limit misery to myself, whenever possible.”

That being said, the Trill rested his elbows on the table and folded his hands back around the warmth of his coffee cup. “The offer of assistance was genuine; no quid pro quo – no ulterior motive – just a bloke trying to help,” he huffed in amusement, then counted off on his fingers as he continued. “My resume includes heavy lifting, excellent communication and organizational skills, relatively experienced knowledge of the ship layout, synergistic promotion...and quality customer service.”

Whether she believed that last bit or not, Arven managed to say it without cracking a smile; which only made it funnier to him. “If I can help, I will do so, in whatever capacity you deem appropriate,” he concluded with a polite nod of respect.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #20
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion

V’lana tilted her head to the side as she made note of Arven’s self-deprecating humour. She wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it, just like she could not yet place whether something he said was sarcasm, cynicism, or if he was being serious. Then again, that was always a struggle, wasn’t it? And what better way to find out, than to have conversations and ask questions.

The Elsarian shifted in her seat, registering a slight backache. Not much of a surprise, really, considering she had been comfortably tucked away in a stasis unit not too long ago.

“Thank you.”, she nodded in appreciation, but couldn’t quite think of anything she currently wanted help with - while she did *need* a certain amount of guidance, she was  unsure how to make use of it, and wondering if it wasn’t better to figure things out by herself. 

“I don’t think it’s help I need, but rather, maybe a friend.”, she muses, paused, and then admitted. “I am not great with not having people around me. But the people I was close with are no longer around.”

She shifted again, for a moment considering how to best express what it was she was feeling. And then wondering what she was feeling in the first place.

“I am not overly social - or rather, I am, but it drains me.”, she shrugged. “I used to be close to my sister, and when she passed away, I found other people. I had a pretty good network of friends and family when… all of this happened.”

She made a gesture that indicated the whole ship, and with it the entirety of the situation she had found herself in.  “So maybe I need to learn to be on my own for a bit, but not become a completely solitary person. You would make a good friend because you don’t seem the clingy or demanding type.”

She leaned forward. “Or am I misjudging you?”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #21
[LT Arven Leux | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
Leux sat and listened with an occasional nod, giving V'lana time to work out her thoughts without interruption; he was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the Elsarian’s tolerance and sincerity, though he noted her struggle to articulate…something. Just as he wondered to what the root cause of said struggle might be, she offered him a clue, albeit a very brief one. Loss and grief was a process unique for everyone, through common patterns and stages existed for most species. Except Vulcans; they stand apart – logical idiots, he grumbled silently.

“My condolences,” Arven dipped his head with sincerity, acknowledging her loss.

For all V’lana’s self-proclaimed faults, Arven found he'd genuinely enjoyed her company, which gave the Trill pause to consider how long it had been since he took the time or effort to manage his own marginal need for socialization. In the past few weeks there had been instances, of course; meetings, the fight-night on the holodeck…His jaw worked side to side in remembrance of the savage pain delivered by Valyn's fist, but couldn’t accurately recall a solitary social event. Almost all had either started, or turned into, work related instances.

Hm. I should probably work on that.

Her final question broke into his thoughts, which prompted Arven to blink rapidly in order to realign himself with the conversation; his lips dragged down into a wry frown while he considered how to answer. “Not at all,” the doctor shrugged. “That’s a fairly accurate assessment, really; likewise, my own social tank is equally shallow,” he admitted, then leaned forward a bit. “Besides, you’re not exactly my type,” he drawled with audible amusement, then straitened quickly with a small smile to explain.

“I find platonic and professional relations preferable, especially between people that work closely together,” he gestured to V’lana in recognition of her earlier statements. “Anything more is usually…problematic,” Arven shrugged with a brief grimace. “Not to say you aren’t attractive, mind; I'd laugh right in the face of anyone silly enough to utter such foolishness then sort them right out. Its simple pragmatism, really; no one has time for such drama, and it always ends poorly, at least from what I’ve seen. Though I do realize that probably isn’t where you were going,” his hand raised briefly with a wry smile. “I’m just putting it out there. Best to know where the other stands on such matters at the start, yes?”

He paused then for another sip of coffee, brows furrowed slightly in contemplation at the notion of being…well, friends with someone; all of his friends had died on Cardassia. Leux pushed that painful place out of his mind, back into the willfully forgotten compartments of his memory – where it belonged.

“You sure about this venture,” Arven tilted his head at the Elsarian with a teasing tone. “Doesn’t mean I’ll be nice to you, you know – just because I enjoy your company. Quite the opposite in fact,” his lip curled in a smile. “Regardless, should you need to chat, give me a ring, anytime,” he nodded, violet eyes looked down into the half-empty cup of coffee, then back up to V’Lana. “You’re a nice person,” he stated rather flatly, mostly due to the fact that Arven was unpracticed at offering compliments. “Given time, I have no doubt you’ll find a more complimentary and robust social circle to support you. I’ll do my best to be there when you need me in the meantime,” he promised, quietly and quite seriously.

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #22
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion

V’lana found it curious to be shown where Arven’s mind was going. She had already gotten the sense that the man didn’t socialise much, and his statements regarding potential drama and setting expectations made her beliefe he had been burned more than once.

The next statement, that she was a “nice person” and would find a more suitable social circle quickly enough, only confirmed that.

“I am nice.”, she agreed. “But, believe it or not, I do also have my flaws. Not many, mind you, but certainly a few. Being nice only gets one so far, and it’s always been my… well, less nice friends who enabled me to be nice in the first place. Which is to say that I don’t need people to be nice - I can do that on my own - I need people to be supportive and on my side. Nice people are usually shit at that.” 

V’lana gave a small sigh, and found that once more, her professional and personal life were mixing in ways she didn’t necessarily want. That was less about present company, but rather that her demeanour in a professional context set the expectation that she was the exact same outside of her duty post.

“My best friend is… was…”, she thought about that for a moment, then settled on “Is. She is the same as you. Generally a bit of an asshole, and there were a few times I wanted to throw my PADD at her. I think there was one occasion where I did.” V’lana smiled at that bittersweet piece of personal history.

“What about you?”, she asked eventually. “Do you have friends here, family, people you love - or at least like - or are you somewhat of a lone wolf?”

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #23
[LT Arven Leux | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @EnigmaTales
Arven turned his head slightly to the side, eyes narrowed askance at V’lana’s choice of words while he thought it over – lips curled slightly in amusement at her rationale for keeping ‘assholes’ around. The comparison didn’t bother him in the slightest; that particular shoe fit him very well, after all. In a world of happy-go-lucky morning people, perpetually giddy as they went about their day in the face of a universe that constantly tossed death, destruction, chaos and mayhem at them in new and unpredictable ways, perhaps a few assholes and naysmiths were needed to balance the sheets out a little. Happy morning people were the worst, a plague to be avoided at all costs, but he shrugged that thought to the side with a huff of air that wasn’t quite a snort or a sigh.

“I haven’t been here very long,” Leux reminded her with a dip of his head. “Over all, the majority of the people I’ve met seem decent enough, acquaintances, I’d say. I like to shop around for the really good deals before commitment,” he added with a sarcastic smile. “A lone wolf though? No, never that.”

He finished off the last of his coffee with a chuckle, but didn’t elaborate.

“It is odd though,” Arven shrugged, his features contemplative. “Sitting here talking with you has served as a reminder of sorts that I am, indeed, a social creature – regardless of how I choose to ignore it,” he nodded with a wry smile at himself. “Perhaps odd is the wrong word; surprising? Sure, lets go with that. Either way,” Leux shrugged again, “I appreciate it. Things like this are important, allegedly, for mental health and self care and...all that other shit they teach us,” he gestured to the park and at them with a twirl of his hand.

“Feels nice to get out though,” Arven admitted to himself as much as V’lana, even though the look on his face bespoke of the awkward pain that admission apparently caused; as if he had been thrust into a warm summer day after enduring a lifetime of cold, sunless winters. “Maybe I’ll try again next week sometime,” he shrugged, then blinked himself free of self-analysis.

“Did you want to order some food,” Arven asked her, his thumb hooked over a shoulder at the cafe.

OOC: sorry for delay

Re: Day 17 [2200 hrs.] Aftermath's Embrace

Reply #24
[Lieutenant J.G. V'lana | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Dumedion

Self reflection. V'lana hated it, but she was quite obviously decent at instilling it in others. Arven's confession regarding his renewed self-awareness as social creature didn't surprise her - they all were - but it did remind her that she would have to rebuild her social circle eventually. Just not right now. Or maybe right now. The doctor was certainly a good start, and thus far she imagined him to be one of those people you could claim to be your "friend" but actually only spoke to once or twice a year. Just the right level of social interaction (aside, well, her actual job) she was looking for.

"Food?", she asked, apparently having forgotten that nutrients, too, were a base need for her species. "You tell me. Can I even digest any of that at the moment?"

She usually got a supplement that helped her body digest nutrients that weren't in the form her biology was made for. Back home, most dishes were based on specific strains of fungus. V'lana found those meals comforting and delicious, but very few other people found that thought appealing. "I will say I crave what we cook at home. My mother used to make a soup I got when I was sick, and although I don't feel sick as such, I think I can get away with the 'look at me, I was in stasis' card a few more days."

Making fun of it certainly took the edge off. Perhaps Arven was a bad influence on her.

"What is it you usually eat when you feel... not-sick, but a little worse for wear? I am happy to take recommendations."

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