Previous Next

New Directions

Posted on Wed Apr 27th, 2016 @ 2:44am by Captain Julius Whitlam & Lieutenant Mikela Reyes MD

Mission: The Ties That Bind
Location: Reyes's Quarters

Mikela Reyes was very glad, these days, to reach her quarters in the evening. She had been volunteering at the Starbase, making full use of every part of her MD except for her actual focus. She knew she was supposed to be a counselor, and there were plenty of people to counsel. Somehow, in the past weeks, she couldn't do it, not when people were dying. If she spent an hour talking to someone with PTSD, then someone with PTSD might find an easing of the symptoms; if she spent that same hour in surgery, someone might live.

Once they were living, she figured, she could see about actually helping them to live well.

It was taxing work, though, and she sighed with relief as she hobbled into her quarters. Mikela thought that she did not look at her best. A few loose dark curls had fallen from her updo. Her face was flushed from exertion, and she had not caught her breath. She dropped down on the couch, dropping her cane on the floor, and hitched up the long, simple skirt of her dress, undid the straps on her brace, and removed it with another deep sigh of relief. Then she laboriously lifted her leg up onto the couch cushions, letting her good leg dangle, and sprawled. Her eyes closed.

The chime rang.

"Yeah.." Mikela groaned, opening her eyes. "Open." As soon as she recognized her own captain in the doorway, as the door swished open, her old Marine training kicked in underneath the veneer that was a ship's counselor. She sat up quickly, every muscle protesting, and attempted a salute.

His hands clasped firmly behind his back, Whitlam stood in the doorway looking the model of a rigid Starfleet captain. When he saw the counselor breaking her rest in order to salute, he quickly allowed his stern facade to vanish and he held his hands out in front. "Please, at ease, Counselor," he said, taking a step into her quarters. "I hope I'm not intruding."

Mikela sagged back against the couch. "The Captain never intrudes," she said wryly, her smile small but genuine. "Come on in, have a seat. Want something to drink?" She swung her leg off the couch, rolled slightly, and picked her cane off the floor. Though she was weary and lame, she wasn't soft or weak, and she pulled herself easily to her feet without the use of the bad joint. Darned if she was ever going to give up hospitality, or, at least, simple politeness.

Whitlam managed a wry smile as he crossed to one of the offered chairs. "If you're going to the replicator anyway, I'll have an iced tea." He sat down in one of the two single chairs opposite the couch that would soon be re-occupied by his host. "How is the medical ward at the Starbase?" he asked in a conversational tone.

"After a while, you just have to shut it off and take your rest," Mikela told him, as she ordered two drinks at the replicator. "It'll burn out anybody who runs on youthful optimism. You could work yourself into a stupor, and people will die while you take a five-minute coffee break. I think today's batch will be the last new one for a while. I hear the rest of our battle group has just about made it in. So much for 'being a Counselor', eh?" She took a drink in each hand, the cane dangling, and managed a rather impressive feat; limping very heavily, her knee giving with every step, she nevertheless held both glasses perfectly stable as she made her way back to the couch and offered the iced tea to her captain. Her drink was a similar color, but it was definitely not only iced tea. She settled down and closed her eyes before taking a sip, tasting it well before swallowing it down.

A hint of a smile tugged at Whitlam's lips as the counselor unwittingly gave him the perfect opening for his purpose. He hid it by taking a sip of the iced tea. "That's actually why I'm here," he said as he placed the glass down on the coffee table between them. He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and rubbed his hands together. "Since this war began, you've been an invaluable extra set of hands in sickbay. I've had three chief medical officers in three months and they've all had the same high opinion of your capacity as a doctor."

"I'm glad of that," Mikela replied. She took another sip, longer this time, and then set down her drink and leaned against the back of the couch. "I've tried to do what I could, tried to help them acclimate, but I can't blame them for switching out. It's a heck of a job right now, and it'll take a tough nut to get it done. Our doctors, the secondaries who are staying, they're really good people, though. We'll find someone who appreciates that." She had no clue where he was going, counselor though she was, and no idea how she was helping the conversation along.

Whitlam steepled his fingers and tapped the tips of his index fingers. "As a matter of fact, I've already found someone to take charge of sickbay," he said, looking Reyes in the eye. "I know that you're assignment on the Manoora is as her counselor, but you are also a fully qualified MD. You've proven that you can do the job and everyone I've spoken to - including Doctor Harrington over on the Starbase - agrees that you're capable of serving in the position. So, I'm here to ask you, Doctor, if you would serve as the Manoora's Chief Medical Officer."

Mikela was glad that she had put her glass down. Her eyes widened, and she remained still for a moment. She didn't know what to say. Her mind whirled... and then began to settle. She thought it over, processed the idea in her head, and found, to her surprise, that it was good. "I..." She collected herself. "I can do it. I can do a good job, too. I don't believe that it would be a mistake, not in our situation. But I have a couple of requests." Was now the time to 'bargain'? She was going to make a try for it anyways. "And a warning." Might as well go the whole way.

The captain sat back in the chair and crossed one leg over the other, brushing away some stray fibre from the fabric of his pants. He wasn't accustomed to negotiating a promotion, but he was willing to hear her out. "Alright," he said. "What are they?"

Mikela read his posture and smiled wryly. "It's really not a big deal. First off, as you're probably aware, I have a bad knee. It doesn't mean much for counseling work, but as a CMO, I'm going to have to ask for some accommodations. I need either my quarters or at least a place to sleep to be as close to Sickbay as feasible. I'm not crippled... I can move pretty quickly if I have to. But if I don't have time to put on my brace, I'd like to be on that leg as little as I need to. Secondly, I might need some uniform accommodation so that I can have easy access to the brace. Those tight jumpsuits really don't do it."

She was right, they really weren't a big deal. The captain nodded once, "Done," he said. "There are officers quarters down on deck four, so I see no problem with you swapping. Work out the details with the Quartermaster. If he gives you any grief, go to the XO. As for the uniform ..." he paused before continuing. "Doctor, as long as you're running your department and saving the lives of my crew, you can wear whatever best accommodates your brace."

"Alright." Mikela smiled more openly now. "That leaves us with the warning. I'm a Marine. I mean, I know I will never qualify again, but you know what they say... once a Marine, always a Marine. There's this expectation about medical personnel. It's not a rule, really. It's more of a culture. They're peacemakers and peacekeepers. Many of them won't resist force, on principle.
"Don't get me wrong, I will help to heal anybody, our people or the enemy, and I don't hold a grudge... or, at least, no grudge I hold will make me hesitate to help anybody in need, either in Sickbay or out on the field. But I am not a peacemaker. If I'm going on-planet, or on-ship during Red Alert, I go armed, and if we are attacked, I will fight."

Whitlam listened and reflected on all that had changed in the last few months. Ever the explorer, deep down he longed to be pushing the final frontier and he hated being a warrior captain. A few short months earlier, he might have been horrified by the doctor's mentality. But this war was changing a lot of things. He leaned forward again. "I understand that, Doctor," he said. "This is war and everybody can be called upon to fight. I would expect nothing less from you or anyone else on my crew. In wartime, we're all soldiers first."

"We're on the same page." Mikela took another sip of her drink, then leaned back, the look on his face bringing out her own reflections. "I've been fighting all my life," she said. "All my life. I wonder if that will ever change." Then she shook her head. "I mean, obviously, in the middle of a war, it won't."

"We have to believe that it will," he said as he reached for his iced tea once again. "Otherwise, what the hell are we fighting for?"

Mikela actually laughed at that, wistfully. "Survival," she said. "When I entered the Marines, it was the first time that I had a higher goal to fight for. They do feed you, after all, and give you a bunk. I went from fighting for survival, to fighting for survival and to help those who couldn't fight for themselves, and then, with the Marines, I could concentrate on fighting for those who couldn't fight for themselves. That colony I fought for when I lost... well, my knee... they weren't that different than the place where we.. where I grew up." She took another sip, relaxing a little more. "If I don't have to fight for survival and I don't need to protect others, well... I guess I'll figure out how to stop fighting. I think I won't mind. I hope I won't."

"You don't strike me as the kind of person who feeds off constant fighting," Whitlam said, feeling slightly amused by the sudden feeling that he was counselling the counselor. "Accustomed to it, certainly. I don't doubt that you could kill someone with that cane there just as easily as you'd give it to a wounded comrade. But spending the rest of your life fighting?" He shook his head. "No, Doctor. When the time comes to lay down our weapons, you won't mind at all."

"You know what, I think you're right," Mikela mused. "I've always fought because I've needed to. She took a deep breath. She knew it was still difficult to talk about, even after several years, but she was going to have to try someday. "My twin brother... and I. We were orphans. We saved each other every day, back-to-back, facing the world. It wasn't an easy ride up, but it made me strong, and it made me want to help people. To be the one facing what they were facing, back-to-back." To her surprise, the sting of grief was not as strong as she had feared.

There was a pause. Whitlam let it linger for a moment. He knew Reyes's service record, but wasn't aware of her personal history and they were squarely entrenched there at that moment. "What happened to him? Your brother."

Mikela blinked. She hadn't expected him to not know. Of course, she had been in recovery for years, even through her second education, and it seemed as if everyone around her had known and would always know. She took a breath... paused... took another breath. She wasn't even sure she could answer. Then she did, and she heard her measured voice as if it was coming from someone else. "He was on the Icarus. Security officer. He didn't..." On that fateful mission, of course. When the ship died, when her Marine group died, when she was the only person of the entire ship's complement to be found alive. "I think... I think I even knew exactly when. They say, with twins, even when they're not identical, it's something they don't really understand, but..." Her voice had gone clinical, but then it had run into words and she had none to add to it. She didn't even have the good grace to find tears in her eyes. He's going to think I don't care, she thought to herself, but there was nothing she could do about that.

He knew of the incident with the Icarus, and he knew that Reyes was the only survivor from the ship's company. He hadn't known that her brother - her twin - was aboard the ship. He felt himself sit a little straighter in the chair at the realisation that he should probably have known that about a senior member of his crew. Inwardly, he cursed himself for not knowing it and made a mental note to find time to look deeper into his officers' files. "I'm sorry," he said trying to be warm. "I knew you were on the Icarus, but I didn't know about your brother."

There was a long pause, almost long enough to be uncomfortable, as her eyes met his. Then she glanced away, and picked up her drink again. "I didn't realize you didn't know. I guess I got used to talking to the people who were part of my recovery process. I guess... They say I was talking about him being gone before I really regained consciousness, and... well..." She took a much longer sip this time, then a deep breath. The moment passed, and a shadow of her wry smile returned. "Recovery was really the first thing I did all by myself." The wry smile became a little truer. "Some counselor, huh."

The captain downed the last of his iced tea. "There's something to be said for speaking from experience," he said. "Besides, you're not the counselor anymore, Doctor."

At that last word, 'Doctor', Mikela straightened up and set her own glass down. "You're right," she said, returning to business. "When do you want me to start?"

"First thing in the morning," Whitlam replied straight away, standing up. "Get some rest first."

"Aye aye," Mikela answered. She rose, balancing on her good leg, trying to put as little weight as possible on the bad. "I... haven't decided yet whether or not to thank you," she added wryly.

That drew a smile across the captain's face and he shook his head. "You've just agreed to take on full responsibility for the health of over five hundred people in the middle of a war where we can reasonably expect a steady flow of casualties," he said. "Doctor, it's I who should be thanking you." He paused and extended his hand. "Thank you."

Mikela could have made light of the moment, but she didn't. Retrieving her cane, she steadied herself, reached out, and shook hands firmly. "Glad to help," she said honestly, and remained standing until the door closed behind him.

Captain Julius Whitlam
Commanding Officer


Lieutenant Mikela Reyes MD
Chief Medical Officer


Previous Next


Comments (1)

By Lieutenant Alice Rhodes on Wed Apr 27th, 2016 @ 3:30am

That was really good! I'm really liking this Doc of ours :o)