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Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Outside Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

Chief Petty Officer Mickayla MacGregor advanced down the passageway, her dress billowing outward to match her stride as she did so. That was probably going to be the most first, if not the most obvious thing that her counsellor would see when she entered her office. Despite being off duty on each of the occasions for her sessions with Hathev, for her first two, Mickayla had worn her duty uniform. This time, however, she had opted for a red dress that she had found down on Aldea. It was one of two that she had found that she liked but this was the more modest of the two. The other was more something that Faye would wear, and thus probably not appropriate for a counselling session. Not that she knew what was appropriate for one.

Today would be her third session with the Vulcan; sessions that had, so far, occurred on a fortnightly basis. It hadn’t exactly been planned that way but Mickayla’s planned second session had been interrupted by her being held captive by pirates down in one of Aldea’s ghost cities. That had led to an extended mission aboard the IKS Kut’luch to hunt down some pirates which had turned into some sort of trap. Or at least she felt it had been a trap. Those, among other events, hadn’t left her a lot of time to work on what Hathev had asked her to do. They had still talked some, about her being on a Klingon ship, and being captured by pirates. The mirror task was to continue, and, at the time, she had still yet to find something new to do to help her adjust. Since then, she had found something which she enjoyed doing.

“With all objectives completed, I wonder what she will ask of me next,” Mickayla wondered as she approached sickbay. “I just hope she doesn’t ask about Faye. Not sure how I am going to explain that. Managed to avoid it last time so hopefully I can again,” the Klingon mused as the doors opened ahead of her, granting her entry. She kept walking until she reached the NCO at the reception duty station.

“Chief MacGregor to see Counsellor Hathev,” Mickayla informed her calmly, her tone relaxed. “I have an appointment.”

“Have a seat Chief,” the NCO responded. “I’ll let her know you have arrived.”

“Thank you,” Mickayla replied, moving to sit on one of the seats, idly noting how different the dress’ fabric felt against her compared to her uniform. “I think I am going to need more clothes like this. They don’t irritate my skin nearly as much.”

OOC: I hope this opening works for you @P.C. Haring If it doesn't, let me know what I need to change.

Mickayla's Outfit (Without visible jewelry.):


Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #1
[ Lt. Cmdr. Hathev | Chief Counselor’s Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

Hathev was going over her notes from her first two sessions with Chief MacGregor when her comm beeped. 

“Hathev, here.”

[Commander, your 0900 appointment is here.]

“Thank you, crewmen.  Please send her in.”

She did not wait for a response before closing the line and returning her attention to closing up her terminal.  After only a moment the chime to her door rang.


The doors parted and closed almost as quickly.

“Please make yourself comfortable, Chief.  If you wish to avail yourself of the replicator, please feel free to…”

She had looked up from her console in that moment and the sight in front of her was so far from what she had expected to see, that it caught her off guard.   Instead of a former Half-Klingon turned full Klingon, unsure of herself and visibly angry to the point where she would shatter a vase against a wall, there stood a young woman in a striking red dress that drew an appealing contrast against her naturally darker Klingon tones.   There was no sign of the anger, no sign of the insecurity.  Instead Chief Macgregor carried a confidence of self that might have made others question if this was the same individual who had been at her door twice before.

“…to do so,” she finished as she turned off her console, took her café americano in hand, and transitioned from the seat behind her desk, to her counseling chair.

“I apologize for my reaction, Chief.  Suffice to say I did not anticipate the nature of your entrance.   I see you have been putting our conversations about being comfortable in your own body to good use.”

Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #2
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

When directed, Mickayla had risen from her seat and strode past the reception station, her dress again billowing out around her feet. It really was the perfect length, the Klingon decided, in that it concealed her feet without being so long as to get underfoot. She had yet to decide on a preferred choice of footwear to go with the dress, her usual preference of boots in various designs not matching with her new style at all. The doors to the counsellor’s office opened at her approach and she strode through without delay, the doors closing behind her.

"Please make yourself comfortable, Chief.  If you wish to avail yourself of the replicator, please feel free to..." Hathev had begun, not looking up from her console at first and thus not seeing Mickayla. But the Klingon took a small measure of satisfaction when the Vulcan did finally look up, as the counsellor’s voice paused in its delivery. But while her voice, her eyes were at work, Mickayla could see, gazing at the Klingon and appraising her. " do so," Hathev finished, as she stood up, and moved to what Mickayla knew to be her ‘counselling chair’, drink in hand.

“I’m alright, thank you ma’am,” Mickayla acknowledge as she moved across the room and sat down across from Hathev. As she settled, adjusting her dress a little so that it irritated her skin less, Mickayla listened as the Vulcan apologised for her stunted speech.

“No need to apologise, ma’am,” Mickayla assured the Vulcan counsellor calmly. “I have been trying to be comfortable with myself and I have been getting some help with that, which has worked well in tandem with your guides,” Mickayla added, not wanting to insult Hathev. “Since these sessions occur off duty, I decided that something less formal and more casual seemed appropriate. And you can call me Mickayla, ma’am. If you want to.”

Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #3
Lt. Cmdr. Hathev | Chief Counselor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 
Hathev settled into her seat and took a sip from her latte as Mickayla settled in.

“Very well,” she conceded.  “And since we are on the topic, you need not refer to me as ‘ma’am’.   You may feel free to use my name as well.”

As she took stock of Mickayla, several things occurred to Hathev almost all at once.   She had made mention of getting additional help with becoming comfortable with herself.  The tone of voice she had used when referring to these sessions almost seemed apologetic, as though concerned that finding help from another source might in some way offend her.   Nothing could have been further from the truth, and even if she was allowing herself to feel offense, there was none to be had.

“It is both appropriate, and logical, for you to utilize additional methods beyond these sessions.   While the counseling staff and I will always be available to you, we merely act as sounding boards and, in a limited capacity, as guides.  In the end, however, it is incumbent on the patient, in this case you, to use that guidance as a foundation to build upon in your daily life.”

She paused a moment allowing that to sink in.  

“It is important to mark our success and to celebrate them as it is to understand and learn from our failures.   To that end would you speak in greater detail to your efforts and the successes they have brought you?"

Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #4
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

Mickayla resisted the urge to shift in her seat as Hathev eyed her appraisingly after acknowledging that the Klingon could call her by her given name as well. This was another senior officer that Mickayla could call by their given name, depending on the circumstances of course. Still, it was a liberty that she didn’t plan on abusing and Mickayla made a mental note to be careful in her on duty engagements. If anything, it was the off-duty engagements, where she could use their given names, that would provide more difficulty, given her lengthy term of service adhering to rank protocols. 

She was relieved when the Vulcan began to speak again, reassuring her that it was normal for her to seek help from others beyond the scope of her counselling. Her sessions with Hathev were designed to help her reflect on her development and, perhaps in some small way, provide her guidance but it was up to her to put that into practice. Her relief at not having offended the Vulcan turned to concern though, when Hathev asked her to go into detail about what she had tried and the successes she had experienced. 

“Um, ok, ah, this is awkward,” Mickayla thought to herself, trying to stop herself from panicking. “Do I tell the truth? Do I lie?” she wondered, now shifting in her seat due to nervous; something she was sure that Hathev’s keen eyes would notice. “I mean, I was supposed to grow more comfortable in my own body, but I don’t think that the way I went about it was what she intended.”

“MIckayla, I assure you that the topics and content of our conversations are kept in the strictest of confidence as is my professional duty. Not even Thea herself is permitted to monitor or record our sessions and she is denied access to my database of patient files and notes. Unless I have compelling cause to believe a patient is a danger to either themselves or others, what is said in these sessions remains confidential. It is a commitment that I take seriously.”

The Vulcan’s words sliced through her mind like a scalpel, cutting her arguments to pieces with unfaltering logic that Mickayla could find no fault in. And yet it did not make the task ahead of her any easier. And that was a little strange to the Klingon. Despite everything that she had done and experienced, both with Faye, others and alone; talking about it with Hathev, who had practically sworn herself to secrecy was suddenly difficult, and embarrassing. Still, she was here, and she had promised to work with the Vulcan to better herself. This was just another step along that path.

“Ah, this is a little awkward,” Mickayla began, unconsciously trying to delay what was to come. “I’ve been doing that mirror task in the morning, looking at myself. That’s helped to reinforce what I am now. Who I am has been harder to accept, at least at first. My memories were arguing with what I was seeing each morning in the mirror. I thought I was going to go crazy until a, ah, friend, pointed out that I could be whoever I wanted to be. That I just had to make that choice and then follow through with it. And if I didn’t like what I could see in the mirror, then I could change it.”

“That’s, um, pretty much the gist of it unless you want the raw, naked version of it,”
Mickayla joked, smiling to herself because she knew that most of the experiences that had helped her accept and grow into her new self were just that, raw and naked, if not explicit.

Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #5
Lt. Cmdr. Hathev | Chief Counselor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

Hathev continued to maintain eye contact with Mickayla as she explained what had been working for her.

“What I want is irrelevant.  I am not here to interrogate you or demand information.   I’m here to listen and to help you work through those things you find it difficult to address on your own.  If you wish to share the ‘raw naked version’, you are free to do so.  If you wish to withhold it, you are free to do that as well.”

She paused a moment to allow that to sink in.   Hathev knew Mickayla was holding something back.  Her vocal inflections, her subconscious body language, all spoke to something she was not comfortable in sharing.  That was, of course, her choice.  But Hathev wanted to make sure her patient knew why she was making that choice.

“That said, I would like you to attempt to identify the cause of your afore mentioned sense of awkwardness.  Are you willing to share your feelings on that matter?  Again, you need not go into exhaustive detail unless you wish to do so.”

It was growing clearer to Hathev that although Mickayla had made marked progress in being comfortable in her new body, she had become bit more withdrawn and reserved.  In their first session, she had been an example of Klingon fury, her anger controlling her to the point she had smashed a vase against the bulkhead.   Granted she had calmed almost immediately thereafter, but since then not only had she brought her emotions under control, but she seemed to have withdrawn.  Almost as though she was afraid of something.
Was she afraid to share it with Hathev, or was she afraid to share it with herself? 

Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #6
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

The Klingon listened as the Vulcan spoke, first noting that Mickayla was free to say or not say whatever she felt like and second, that she would like to explore why Mickayla felt awkward discussing the topics she had mentioned. It was an interesting diversion, the Klingon noted, as she tried to ascertain herself why she felt awkward discussing how she was progressing. Sitting back further into her seat, Mickayla considered Hathev’s question and how, or if, she might answer it.

“I guess,” Mickayla began before pausing. She wanted to share what she had experienced. What she felt. But she was nervous about how Hathev might see her. How she might react. “Embarrassment. Nervousness. Some of the things I have done recently, and intend on continuing to do, I would never have done before. Had never even considered trying them. It wasn’t how I was raised. Now, I can’t imagine my life without them in it. I often feel like there is a war inside me but doing some of the things I have done; they bring me peace. If only a little.”

“I’m worried about what you will think about me. About some of the things I have done,”
Mickayla admitted before clarifying. “None of it is illegal. I just don’t know if it is normal either.”

Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #7
[ Lt. Cmdr. Hathev | Chief Counselor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

((OOC – Parts of this post were written in consultation with @Stegro88 ))

Under most circumstances, Hathev would have preferred a slower pace in the conversation.  She found it effective as it offered the patient time to thing, reflect, and analyze without external pressure from her.  But given Mickayla’s comments, a quicker response was necessary lest she assume her concern to be true.

“Were your actions unethical?  Were they In violation of Starfleet protocols?  Were they in violation of your duties and responsibilities aboard this ship as a member of its crew?  Did they risk harm to either you or your fellow shipmates?"

“Ah, no to all," Mickayla said before adding. "Well maybe a little on risking harm to each other but nothing unexpected. We both wanted what we did to happen. So we accepted the risk.”

Hathev nodded.  “That, Mackayla, is what we call ‘informed consent’.  That kind of risk is  little different from the risk one takes when they chose to play a game of Parrises Squares.  Informed consent is a risk we chose to take knowing it's consequences.  I am referring to the risk of permanent injury or death to yourself or your shipmates and I do not believe that is a risk you and your companion took.”

She paused.  “Given what you’ve said, I would ask you why you care what I or anybody else thinks.”

This time Hathev paused to let that sink in.  She had yet to be this blunt with her and it would probably be interpreted harsher than was anticipated.   To that end, it was prudent to permit her a moment to take it in.

“I want you to hear me.  I know you are listening, but I want you to completely hear and understand what I am about to say, Mackayla.”  Again she paused and this time took a sip of her drink before continuing.  “You are on a journey of self-discovery.  There is no journey more stressful or more rewarding.  You are discovering who you are, who you were, and who you wish to be.  This is one of the most fundamental questions you will face in your life, and it is a question you will face multiple times throughout your life.  There is no ‘normal’ when it comes to finding those answers.  Every sentient being goes through what you are, and every sentient being finds their own, unique, path to that answer.”

She knew she had been going on a bit, but there was more she needed to say, more that her patient needed to hear.

“So long as you do not develop destructive habits, you are not required to justify your path to anyone.  You are not required to share details you would prefer to keep private.  But I would implore you to understand that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ on this journey.  What is important is that you be yourself.  Be your genuine self, and those around you will accept you for who you are and those who genuinely care about you will offer you no judgment.  Being your true self does not require large acts.  Take this appointment for example.  Today you chose to come in a dress.  That choice is an expression of who you are or, at the very least, who you want to be.”

She paused, allowing an extra moment for Mackayla to take it all in.  Hathev had laid it out there, now to see if she could get Mackayla to think along those lines..

“Tell me about your new dress.  Tell me why you chose to wear it today and tell me what you believe it says about who you are, or who you want to be.”

Re: Day 32 [0900hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #8
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

The Vulcan’s quickfire questions took Mickayla off-guard and her resulting answer was initially stammered before she was able to clarify her choice of words. This seemed to assuage Hathev as she described to the Klingon the notion of informed consent before positing another question; why did Mickayla care what anybody else thought about her. It was an interesting question, Mickayla realised, as she thought about it while Hathev spoke of the journey she was undertaking and what she could gain from it.

“Nothing about what I have experienced or had done to me could be classified as ‘normal’, not even remotely so,” Mickayla thought to herself. “I barely recognise the person I once was and instead chose to remake myself anew, not caring what others thought. So, why am I caring now?” she wondered. The only answer she could come up with was that, despite this being off duty and at her own volition, this session was with a member of the ship’s senior staff and, if she so chose, Hathev could impart some sort of sanction against Mickayla, or even Faye.

But Hathev was also right. The galaxy was a vast place and, even if only counting the number of Humans in it, all of them were individuals; each with their own quirks and behaviours. Klingons, Trills, Betazoids and many other races were filled with individuals. Mickayla would just be another one of those. And that was all she could really hope to be. An individual. Free to make her own choices and decisions. And so long as they didn’t hurt others, then whatever choices she made were her own.

"Tell me about your new dress.  Tell me why you chose to wear it today and tell me what you believe it says about who you are, or who you want to be."

“My dress?” Mickayla hedged, her mind going back over what Hathev had been discussing to better understand what she was asking while she subconsciously ran her hands over the light fabric. “I’m not sure if you know this, Ma.. Hathev,” she began. “But after the Savi changed me, my skin became hypersensitive. I’ve been told that it is more than likely going to be permanent. I could take some sort of numbing agent, but the side-effects could impact upon my ability to do my duty. So I put up with the discomfort while on duty and while off-duty I have begun to wear less, and lighter, clothing choices and styles. If I wear anything at all,” Mickayla described, not realising she had said that last part until after it was out. 

“And I like the colour,” she added.

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #9
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 
Hathev took a sip of her coffee as she listened to Mickayla’s answer about the dress.  While she could not argue with the answer provided, it missed the mark of what she was trying to get to.
“All valid reasons, without question,” she conceded.  “However I do not believe they address  the core of my question.”
It took her only a few seconds to determine how best to adjust her approach to the inquiry.  
“I will frame the question with a different context.   When I walk into a room wearing this uniform,” she motioned to herself, “I am making a statement and communicating to all in attendance something about myself.   I am communicating that I am a Starfleet officer, a Lieutenant Commander assigned to the medical and sciences division.  It also communicates that I am in a setting where I am representing Starfleet and the Federation in either an official or unofficial capacity.  With that communicated, those in the same room as I have learned something about me, and will use that as a basis to form their perceptions of me, both positively and negatively.  In that sense you might say the uniform makes a statement.”
She paused to let that thought settle in her patient.
“So in that context, I would like to know what you wish for that dress to communicate to others about who you are.  What statement do you wish it to make on your behalf?”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #10
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

Mickayla wanted to object as Hathev rejected her response. Rejection though, was not the correct term for what Hathev did; rather it was more set it aside in search of a deeper meaning behind the dress. The Vulcan had used the example of her Starfleet uniform and what she believed it communicated to others when they saw it. She wanted to know what Mickayla expected others to see and understand about Mickayla herself when they saw her in the dress. What did she want to tell them?

That stumped the Klingon. She hadn’t chosen the dress to convey a meaning. She had chosen it because her uniform irritated her skin if she wore it for too long. The dress was light and flowing, allowing it to slide across her skin rather than rub it. She liked the colour and after moving around in her quarters for a bit, she found she liked it. It was comfortable to wear.

“Hathev, I, ah,” Mickayla began trying to think of a way to say what she wanted to. “I’m not sure I did pick it to make a statement. I’m comfortable in it. That is why I picked it. As I said, my uniform irritates my skin and it is inappropriate for me to walk around nude. I’m not even sure if I would want to walk around completely nude all the time. This seemed like the best course of action to take.”  

“If I was incorrect and should be in uniform, I will go and change quickly,”
Mickayla proposed, slightly dejected, as she rose to her feet. “It will not take me very long.”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #11
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

Hathev put her hand up, an attempt to placate her patient.  "No," she said with perhaps more urgency than intended.  "That is not necessary Micklayla.  My comments were not intended to suggest you are inappropriately attired for this session.  Please, sit and be comfortable."

Hathev took a moment to gather herself and allow Mickayla gather herself before she resumed. 

"Please accept my apologies and allow me to clarify.  In no way do I intend to judge your actions or the actions of any other patients and I carry no expectations regarding my patients attire as long as they are comfortable.  I will tell you that during my tenure on Starbase 313, I regularly counseled a Lurian while he shared a mud bath with a harem Orion Slaves.  It was an awkward setting, but it put him at ease which allowed him to be receptive to the therapeutic process."

"In short, I am here to accommodate you.  Not the other way around.  Whether you chose to arrive in uniform, or in a dress, or wearing nothing at all, I will accommodate your needs."

There was more she intended to share most notably amore clear explanation of her questions about the dress itself, but for the moment, putting Mickayla back at ease was the primary concern and she was at risk for talking her proverbial ear off.

"Does that make sense to you, Mickayla?"

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #12
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

 Mickayla's proposed temporary departure to change her attire to something more formal was forestalled by the Vulcan counsellor’s words, bringing her up short with an offer to return to her seat. As Mickayla considered her choices, Hathev went on, apologising for it appearing that she was judging Mickayla before sharing an anecdote about a time that she had a session with a Lurian and his harem of Orion slaves. Mickayla was disgusted at the thought of slaves on a Federation station before re-evaluating her decision when she remembered that the slaves were Orion. Odds were, her was the slave, not them.

Then came the offer. Hathev told Mickayla that she was there to accommodate the Klingon. It didn’t matter if Mickayla chose to wear her uniform, a dress or indeed, nothing at all, the Vulcan would be at her service. Unconsciously, Mickayla’s hand rose to the shoulder strap of her dress, fiddling with it for a moment as she considered putting the Vulcan’s words to the test. Choosing instead to simply accept her words at face value, Mickayla sat back down on the couch and looked at Hathev.

“It does,” she responded, considering how best to explain what she was feeling in that moment, and lately in general. “Growing up a hybrid was not easy. I was forced to control my physical and emotional self to a greater degree than the Humans around be lest I hurt them. Even with only 50% Klingon blood, I found myself struggling to control my anger and frustration at times. When I finally reached Starfleet training, I had a Vulcan classmate who was able to teach me some of what he had learned during his Kolinahr and it helped. Now that I am a full-blooded Klingon, I am discovering just how easy I had it growing up.”

“I am generally a practical person though, hence why I am here. To deal with my sensitive skin, I chose a looser outfit with a lighter fabric,” Mickayla explained by way of example. “I have never been good with my feelings or explaining them. So, to try and sort myself out and understand all the changes I am experiencing, I have come to see you.”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #13
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

Confident that she had, at least momentarily, mollified the otherwise insecure and often confused Mickayla, Hathev sat back in her seat and listened as Mickayla spoke about her struggles to control herself while growing up, and how  with the benefit of hindsight it seemed simpler as a youth.

"Both practical and logical," Hathev agreed.  "I don't have to tell you how intense Klingon emotions can be.  Given how hard you worked as a youth to find and understand yourself, the uncertainty you're feeling as you realize you have to go through this process again is certainly understandable." 

Her own words resonated with her as she, herself, was in a way undergoing a similar journey as Ms. MacGregor.  Ever since that mind meld with Cross, Hathev had been forced to re-evaluate who she was becoming and, for the first time, she started to realize just how intimidating it seemed to her; a disciplined Vulcan trained in the sciences of psychology.  If it could do that to her what could it do to a younger, less disciplined mind?  Yes, she understood and empathized all too well with young Ms. MacGregor.

Yet, before they could work on her emotional balance, Mickayla needed to come to terms with what had happened to her. 

"I want to go back, Mickayla, and I want you to remember back to your encounter with the Savi."

She paused, giving Micayla a moment. 

"I know this will be upsetting to you.  For that I apologize and I ask for your trust.  I want you to think about what happened on the Versant."  She paused.  "Tell me what comes to mind.  Do not concern yourself with structure or narrative.  Simply relate what you feel, as it comes to you."

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #14
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

The Klingon had just begun to settle back down, her resolve to better herself firming up as she could begin to see a time when her emotions were back under control. It was a day the Mickayla longed for after the last month spent trying to regain that which she had lost. She had had little success, partly due to the environment that the Klingon now found herself occupying and partly because she was still trying to discover who she was now after everything. Still, she was progressing. And then Hathev brought up wanting to talk about her time with the Savi and what they had done to her.

“Hell no!” was Mickayla’s first instinct, the Klingon barely stopping herself from vocalising the thought. “No way and I reliving that nightmare!” she thought to herself before listening to the Vulcan officer explain herself and why she wanted to talk about the Savi. She wasn’t asking for a debriefing or a walkthrough. Hathev was asking for Mickayla to describe how she felt about what had happened aboard that ship to her.

“Anger,” Mickayla muttered, her downcast eyes rising to stare directly into the Vulcan’s own. “Anger like I have never felt before. They took everything that I was, without even a care in the world about me. I was an experiment to them, nothing more,” Mickayla explained, going beyond what Hathev had asked but unable to stop herself. Her hands gripped her knees through the fabric of her dress, threatening to tear it as her unstable emotional state roared into focus. Fighting herself, Mickayla tried to clamp down, to resist the tidal wave of feelings that came as she once again relived what had happened to her.

“The pod was cold, depressing after the Borg destroyed the Endeavour,” Mickayla began, her memories furnishing her with the visuals and feelings like it was only yesterday. “But they didn’t take us, and we wondered if we were now just bait for the Borg’s next target. I don’t remember the Savi arriving. I went to sleep in the escape pod and woke up in a different pod on the Versant. I was restrained, stripped naked and forced to listen as the Savi told us what he was going to do. He even introduced himself. His name was Agrand.”

“All of us there, we were all hybrids, and we were given a choice. It was a smokescreen though, our choice didn’t matter, and our memories were going to be erased anyway. Still, having a choice made me feel better. Until it came to my turn and I saw the second liver sitting on the table. That’s when I knew,”
Mickayla explained, her voice now chilly with repressed fury. “I raged but it made no difference. I was sedated. Before I had even passed out completely the bastard had started cutting into me. I could feel the scalpel splitting me from the neck all the way down to past my navel,” she described, using her hand to point just how far the incision had travelled. 

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #15
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

One did not need to be an empath to sense how upset the very idea of the thought of reliving her ‘correction’ and she was gratified when Mickayla displayed her trust and acquiesced.  Hathev sat forward in her seat.  She resisted the urge to physically reach out to her patient.  She needed to confront these emotions, needed to give voice to them.  For once in her life, Hathev felt for the woman.  She did not dare imagine what her experience might have been had it been her on that table, being torn apart, eviscerated, violated.

“I know how hard this must be for you and you are doing well with this exercise,” she said keeping her voice softer and warmer than her typical neutral Vulcan.  It was important that Mickayla feel as safe and as at ease as possible.  “Please, continue as you are able.  Allow your thought process and associated emotions to flow as they will.  Do not concern yourself  with staying ‘on topic’.  It is important that you are able to express the affect your experience had on you both in the moment, and in the aftermath.  I am here with you and you may safely share anything that comes to you.”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #16
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

In thinking about it, Mickayla could almost feel the scalpel cutting her open again and she had to shake herself to get rid of the feeling. Oddly, what helped the most though was when she placed her hands over her navel and felt the piercing beneath the dress. It was a reminder, almost a symbol of the new Mickayla MacGregor, one born that day aboard the Versant thanks to the ministrations of the Savi. And now, thinking on it for what seemed like the first time, Mickayla didn’t want to go back. True, she felt more different now than she had ever felt before, but she also felt more alive than ever before as well. 

“There isn’t much more to say really,” Mickayla hedged evenly. “I awoke in the holding area with everyone else. We were all naked until boxes of clothes arrived. After that we waited until it was time to fight back. I joined the team in the hanger and three of us made it to that future fighter, the Reaver, and were able to use it to escape,” coming up short as she remembered what came next. Her happy feelings from feeling acceptance of herself were washed away by the guilt she still felt for what she had done.

“We caught up to the Theurgy just as the Battle of the Apertures started. Dev was the pilot with the three of us squeezed into the small cockpit,” Mickayla explained, unconsciously referring to the officer informally as she remembered how intimately she had been pressed against the hybrid turned Human. “Dev made sure we survived the battle but when it came time to go through the tunnel-thing, Gideon began to flip out. He kept trying to take the controls. We were going to crash. I had to do something. I hit him. I thought he was just unconscious. He wasn’t. I was too strong.”

Mickayla’s voice died away as her mind travelled back to that moment when she realised she had killed the man. She’d been told it wasn’t her fault, that it was a result of the chemical imbalance from the change by the Savi and that with treatment it wouldn’t happen again. It did little to make her feel better, she remembered. She’d thrown herself into her duties and exercise to try and dim the memory as much as she could, not even realising when she had stopped thinking about it. 

Placing her hands back on her navel, Mickayla took slow, deep breaths as she felt the piercing underneath again, trying to calm her mind and remember the moment’s peace she had felt earlier.

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #17
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

If she was one to experience pride, Hathev would have prided herself in her ability to observe her patients  A relatively easy task for any counselor or any Vulcan, to say nothing for a Vulcaan counselor.  Some patients were more guarded in their mannerisms than others, making them naturally more difficult to observe and read.  Others were far easier to read, their every motion telegraphing their emotions and inner sensibilities with such obviousness, a first year student could surmise the patient’s state of mind sight unseen.  Mickayla MacGregor was not that easy to read, but like most Klingons Hathev had encountered, she was easy enough.  A stereotype to be sure and one that she would never repeat to her patient, but the sentiment was not undeserved. 

Hathev piratically saw the guilt cloud her mind as though the emotion were made manifest as a curtain or a sheet.  She watched Mickayla retreat into herself, her hands moving over her stomach, just as they had a moment ago when she had described the torture the Savi had put her through.  Hathev had dismissed it the first time as a psychosomatic response, the need to protect herself from the memory of the scalpel cutting into the flesh of her belly.  But when her hands returned to that exact spot again, this time after describing her role in the accidental death of Lieutenant Drake, she realized it was something else entirely - A Tell.

She could not yet, surmise the cause of this specific Tell, though she suspected guilt.  Hathev had read the reports when Mickayla had made her first appointment.  Lieutenant Drake had violated direct orders to stand down when he attempted to seize control of an AC-507.  Mickayla had found it necessary to subdue him with force, but her use of that force to subdue the Lieutenant had proved fatal.  Subsequent investigations cited a chemical imbalance and a lack of awareness of her own strength in the wake of her all too recent conversion and due to those extenuating circumstances, the death was ruled accidental, and the matter had been dropped.

But Mickayla still held onto the guilt of that moment, just as she held onto the anger and sense of helplessness over what the Savi had done to her.  Logical and expected reactions, of course.  But that identified the underlying issue.  While Mickayla had certainly adapted to her newfound self, Hathev questioned whether or not the young Klingon had truly accepted it.  Hathev would need to continue to tread lightly on this matter, lest she overwhelm the young officer so, for now, she would pull on the thread she had been offered.

“When you put your hands on your stomach like that,” she started.  She kept her voice soft and warm, to ensure she would not sound accusatory.  “Where does your mind go in that moment?”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #18
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

Mickayla’s hands froze in place at Hathev’s sudden change in topic. The Klingon had been expecting more questions relating to Gideon Drake and the ensuing fallout from her having killed him but instead she had changed course and instead asked her about her hands. She realised that Hathev was picking up on her trying to calm herself and was asking about it. She considered lying or trying some sort of avoidance but knew that the Vulcan would see through them, even if she chose not to comment on Mickayla’s denial.

“I, ah,” Mickayla began, trying to gather her thoughts. “Aldea. I go down to Aldea,” Mickayla answered. “It was early, during our time here, soon after pirate incident in the ghost city. I was ordered to escort an officer through the city. I thought it was a menial task, at first, but it turned out to be one of the best days I have had in recent memory, maybe ever. We went shopping, ate and went to the beach. We even got navel piercings together.”

“That is what I am feeling, the piercing,”
Mickayla revealed, her hand moving again, caressing the bejewelled area. “It is reminding me that there are good days amongst the bad. And that you never know when a bad one could turn into a good one,” she explained as she relaxed.

“Did you want to see it?”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #19
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

Hathev sensed a shift in Mickayla as she spoke of the piercing in her naval.  There was a lightness in her voice, and a relaxed demeanor the Vulcan had not seen in her patient, ever.  This, she suspected was the proverbial doorway into the new sense of self and she found herself wondering if this officer Mickayla had been assigned to on Aldea was the same ‘friend’ she had referenced earlier in the session.  It was a preferable outcome for her to discuss both the good and the bad in her daily experiences.  Most humanoids, especially those from species who were emotionally prone, often focused on the events they considered to be troubling or uncertain in lieu of the more positive moments.  Balance in that matter was, of paramount importance.

She also noted the contradiction in the Klingon’s mindset.  Earlier she had admitted to feeling awkward over sharing the details of her journey of self discovery.  Now she was offering to show Hathev her naval piercing, an action that would potentially require the Klingon to hike up her floor length skirt to her chest.  Hathev was no voyeur, and she trusted her patient was, indeed, wearing the appropriate undergarments, so the issue of inappropriate exposure was not a concern.  Furthermore, this was a sign of trust, that Mickayla was staring to open up.  It would be ill advised to close the door.

“I would welcome the opportunity to see it, if you are willing to show me, Mickayla.”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #20
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

The question had slipped out as Mickayla had recalled, and revelled in, how relaxed that day had been down on Aldea. Compared to what she and Faye had done that day, not to mention afterwards, showing her piercing to the Vulcan counsellor seemed like small potatoes. Especially after Hathev’s pronouncement that she was there for Mickayla, along with the lengths she had gone to in the past. And now that Hathev had accepted her offer, it was now the Klingons turn to follow through.

Hesitating for a moment, Mickayla worked through what she was about to do. Exposing her navel, and the piercing therein, meant either raising or lowering her dress. Lifting it was the less risqué option, but it was also the more awkward of the two. Lowering it was much easier, but Mickayla had chosen to only wear a pair of cheeky boyshort panties underneath, which would leave her topless when she dropped her dress. And it was drop it to the floor or try and hold it up around her hips. Something which the flowing nature of the dress would not make easy to do. 

“Alright then,” Mickayla said as she stood. Bringing her hands up to her shoulder straps, Mickayla shuffled her feet out of the sandals she was wearing before slipping the straps off her shoulders and down her arms. Freeing her arms, she hooked her thumbs into the hem and pushed it down her body, revealing first her breasts and then the emerald green studded piercing at her navel. Once the dress passed her hips, Mickayla released the garment and it billowed to the floor around her ankles.

“So, what do you think?” Mickayla asked, her hands resting on her hips as she stood proudly before the Vulcan, trying not to think too hard about what she was doing.

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #21
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

When Mickayla had suggested she might show Hathev her new naval piercing, the Vulcan had assumed the Klingon had a holo image of the work done.  While she had not brought an imager with her to the session, nor had she brought a PADD which might contain such an image, it would have been logical to assume her patient would request to access her personal display and call up an image from her personal database for her to share.

Hathev had not expected the woman would be standing front and center in her office stripping down to just her undergarment  to show the piercing directly. 

Fortunately for the Vulcan, this was not the first time a patient had decided to disrobe in front of her.  The Lurian and his harem in the Mudbaths on Starbase 84 still stood as the most lurid of sessions in her career.

Hathev regarded the young woman standing in front of her.  Suppressing the emotional responses proved a simple enough task, allowing her to remain objective as she observed and she could understand the physical attraction one might feel towards her.  Even so, Hathev did not dwell on her physical features, but rather focused her attention on the piercing. 

Such as it was, Hathev found the piercing unremarkable.  It bore no significance to her, held no symbolism beyond that of superficial vanity.

But that was not the point of this exercise.  There was something far more significant occurring in this moment, something far more important.

Hathev lifted her gaze until she met the eyes of her patient.

“I am proud of you, Mickayla.”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #22
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

Despite Hathev’s assertion that Mickayla was free to dress or undress as she felt like, the Chief Petty Officer still expected to be chastised for stripping off directly in front of her to show the Vulcan her piercing. She had considered it the most practical solution to the problem of showing her counsellor the piercing she had spoken about. She still wasn’t sure what had made her offer to let Hathev see it. It had been a compulsion, a challenge maybe, to see just how far the Counsellor would go to back up her words. Now Mickayla would find out how she would react.

“I am proud of you, Mickayla.”

Six words. Six clear, uncomplicated words that were nothing like the Klingon was expecting to hear as she stood there. The temperature of the recirculated air was having its usual effect on her body, but Mickayla strove to ignore it as her mind tried to process what she had heard the Vulcan say to her. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had said that to her. When was it? Who had said it? But it was not only the when and the who that had her confused. It was the why as well.

“I don’t, ah, I don’t understand. Why would you be proud of me? I hardly think that getting a piercing is worthy of praise.”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #23
[Lt. Cmdr. Hathev |Chief Counselors Office| Deck 11 | Vector 02 | U.S.S. Theurgy] Attn: @Stegro88 

Her patient didn’t have to use words to communicate her lack of understanding.  Hathev could see the confusion clear on Mikayla’s face.  What she was about to tell the young woman might inadvertently undermine all that she had accomplished.  Mickayla had made such progress, but Hathev considered it might just be the appearance of progress as she wasn’t consciously thinking about it, and that as soon as she  called attention to it, she would experience a sense of embarrassment and regress.

She regarded her patient once again, making clear and distracted eye contact as it would do even less good to make her feel objectified.

“When you first came to me, Mickayla, you told me you were broken.  You didn’t understand yourself, did not understand the body with which you had been left, did not like what you saw in the mirror.  You even threw that vase against the bulkhead to illustrate your point.”

She motioned to the vase on her coffee table, the one she had mended in the days after that appointment.

“One month later,” she continued.  “You stand here, in my office, nude so that you may show me a body piercing you obtained while on leave, one that you obtained while you were traveling with a companion who seems to have become very special to you and one with whom you have implied you have been physically intimate.”

Hathev permitted herself a pause so her words would sink in.

“Whether you realize it or not, Mickayla, this observation shows that not only have you begun to accept your physical self, but also that your emotional self has started to heal and the 'pieces' of yourself have started to mend back into a greater whole. You said as much when we started this session, but I believe you have made more progress than you realize and to that end, you should be proud and I applaud your successes.”

Re: Day 32 [0900 hrs.] Further Steps

Reply #24
[ CPO Mickayla MacGregor | Chief Councillor's Office | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy | Aldea ] Attn: @P.C. Haring

Mickayla’s cheeks flushed at the reminder of her violent outburst when she had first come to speak with the Vulcan councillor. But she was unable to dwell on that moment as Hathev continued with her verbal discourse of the Klingon’s progress in self-discovery, highlighting some of the most significant events in Mickayla’s journey. Hearing it all recounted to her, along with Hathev’s own observations of her progress made Mickayla review everything that had happened to her since before even being reassigned to the Endeavour. Everything, almost her entire life flashed before her eyes in a timeless moment of recall, and she was able to view it all. She could see her successes and her failures, places she could have done things better or even just differently and things that she wished had never even happened.

Taking a moment, blinking to clear the memories from her vision, Mickayla tried to think of how to say what she wanted to say, of how to put into words the realisation that Hathev had spurred within in. She almost felt euphoric in that moment, as if everything and nothing mattered at that moment. There was only herself and whoever she wanted to be from that moment on.

“You’re right,” Mickayla declared after a moment, her voice barely above a whisper as her eyes refocused on Hathev and her voice returned to normal. “I am beginning rebuild myself. And not as I was before all of this. I’m, I feel as if I am reborn, in a way. That I have my whole life ahead of me and I can choose to make it into anything I want. That I can do, be, and be with anything or anyone that I want to.”

“That there are no more strings on me.”

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