Needing to Talk
Location: USS Poseidon; Captain's Ready Room, Deck 1, Bridge
Timeline: Day 002 -1500 Hours
Neteri was still hurting from the incident and still quite shaken. Walking through the ship aimlessly trying to understand what happened and why. Her mind was in turmoil, her feelings and emotions were a royal mess. Even after talking with the Counselor she still had her heart shot out of her by his death. She could not deny the fact that she had started to fall for Pavan in a way she swore she would never do again.
Realizing finally where she was, she hit the door chime on the captain's ready room door and waited. She needed to talk to someone about how she felt beside the Counselor and she needed his reassurance she could confide in him like the counselor.
By the time Neteri had wandered onto the bridge, the Commander had briefly retired to his Ready Room from various exercises just a room away. The Bridge had been sparsely tended to, with only a handful of Junior Lieutenant's keeping watch, most of which had been under Franklin's tutelage as he had been showing them various stations and their responsibilities. So it was expected that when a senior officer had appeared, none of the junior officer's would question it. After all, wasn't she going to see the Commander?
Neteri's route gave no further suspicion to anyone else, most of whom didn't pay a second gander once they figured where she was heading. Only two on the bridge noticed how disheartened she looked, and one of those knowing who she was and her situation. Soft words of pity exchanged between those two before they returned to their duties.
In the Captain's Ready Room, Commander Franklin Johnson was busy with another matter entirely - food. He had decided to take a late lunch, since prior in the afternoon he hadn't had a chance to leave the bridge. Sitting behind his desk, he ate slowly his meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans with a healthy serving of his favorite beverage, sweet tea. He was midway through his meal when the door chimed. He thought it odd, considering the only individuals close to his door were on task at the moment.
Standing and fingering one of the junior officers in training needed some assistance, he cleaned his hands and mouth with a provided napkin and headed towards the door. Pressing a button, the doors slid open to reveal an extremely distraught Neteri. Eyes widening, Franklin instinctively reached out, grasping both her shoulders.
"Lieutenant, what happened?! Are you okay?!" his words frantic, one hand close to pressing his combadge to declare a need for medical assistance.
"I am .....how to explain to you sir. I was walking and thinking and needing to talk to someone beside the counselor. Someone that I can confide in to talk with and maybe they could listen, understand and maybe help me to understand why I feel the way I do," Neteri said. Taking a few steps inside the doors so's to be put of sight of wandering eyes, not that there were any as the ship was near deserted. "I don't need medical assistance captain," She said trying to smile.
Franklin nodded, the deeply concerned and borderline shocked expression calming significantly as he took her gently by the shoulder further in. He guided her to sit at his guest chair, he sitting just across it, leaning one elbow on his desk. He looked her up and down, appraising her condition, and finding that she wasn't losing her mind he proceeded.
"What's wrong, Neteri? I'm here to help." He then assumed a rather attentive posture, eyes focused, expression polite.
"Captain....I", she started then stopped. Taking a breath she started again. "Captain, I want to talk with you......but I am unsure how. I have spoken at length with the counselor but, I need to confide in someone else. I was taught that the captain of the ship was the one person who could be trusted and confided in. So here I am," she said looking deeply into his eyes.
Franklin stared back, sensing the importance of what Neteri needed to convey. He gave a slow nod, "Alright, yeah," he said as he sat upright a bit more. "I understand that, I think most of us do who have service history in Starfleet. But I must admit I am curious as to what you want to tell me that you don't believe Lieutenant Commander Shakura couldn't handle. Would you mind elaborating and starting from the beginning?"
"Sir, the phantoms of the past are pushing their way out from the deep recesses of my subconscious mind. Pilots I lost, fighters being blown out of the sky. All of this is pushing out. I know it is not good for stuff you bury deep in the mind, to suddenly come to the surface. It can be dangerous especially for me. It can affect my position. I know that talking about it is good for the soul, but talkimg to the right person such as you. The counselor is telepathic and in order for her to not get any straight empathic feelings I had to literally close my mind to her", Neteri said./ that she was conveying - and her deepest concerns. He quietly thought about what she was trying to convey in full to her Commanding Officer, a thing that she couldn't apparently trust to the ships Chief Counselor. While feeling slightly irked that his Chief Counselor was being avoided or downplayed, Franklin also understood that to have a crewmember depend on him was something to value. He didn't want to be rude by expressing his thoughts on it, so instead he let Neteri, and she did so amicably.
"You're afraid that because the Chief Counselor is a betazed that you're not able to express yourself fully?" Franklin attempted to surmise after Neteri had finished. "I suppose I can understand that, you want to convey the emotion without someone already knowing. Still, the reason we have a Chief Counselor is to help with moments like these. I see, however, you've chosen me to help, or to listen. In either case I'm happy to be here for you."
Franklin gave a moment to smile and express confidence in his Wing Commander before continuing;. "We've all lost loved ones, close confidants on this mission, I think none more so than Commodore Paladin himself. I might even suggest the Commodore would be a more amicable person to talk to, as he's experienced probably the closest amount of loss as you have. I must admit my experience doesn't come close to yours, so all I'm able to do is listen and provide whatever I know."
He sighed, nodding towards Neteri. "What I do know is that Pavan's death has hit us all hard, myself included. But we can't linger on what happened. Space is a deadly place, always has been, it isn't like being on planet with multiple safeguards against the horrors of the environment, or lack thereof. Instead, humanity may very well have grown accustomed to its dangers, and conclude that we are above it. Pavan's death proves we're not. He served Starfleet honorably, even unto death. He tried warning you, I believe, to that danger before he perished. Every indication I have tells me he served honorably, and I think this is what we need to take away from this situation."
Franklin maintained his position, watching Neteri carefully and considerately.
"I understand that captain and for that I am grateful that you are taking the time to listen to me. Back on my last two postings there were several battles, two of which I was leading the squadrons. These two battles were very similar in nature and the out come almost exactly if it had been planned and rehearsed before we ever arrived. The first battle was fierce and deadly. I watched my fighters with their pilots get blown up. I watched other fighters get blown up as they came off the deck.....watching the bod.....bodies floating helplessly as we dived and shot the enemy. I could see the expressions of fear, shock, disbelief frozen on their faces as we flew past them. It was horrible. Then it was over and we went home to grieve the losses and replenish what we lost," Neteri said getting up and walking to the window and stared for a long time.
"Every time I look out there I wonder if I will see a body floating past me reminding me of those battles", she said softly. "I always wondered why I still fly and train pilots. I know its in the blood but I still feel like a bit traumatized everytime I lose someone. Who knows maybe I have Post Traumatic Stress....or maybe something similar. All I know is that his death opened up the door that had been locked tight", she said finally sitting back down.
Franklin listened, quietly as Neteri spoke. She was letting all of her emotions out, her fears, her reservations. Franklin respected that. At the end, he took in a breath and found himself holding it. He wasn't sure how to respond. He quietly released the breath, gazing at her.
"You don't have to be a pilot, you know," Franklin suggested. "You can take up any other position. I can even request you to have some leave, we're still at Starbase 99. But I think you need to think this over, because I believe you need some time to yourself. These are issues only you and time can resolve together, but never alone."
"That's just it....I am alone! I have no friends, I shield myself from making bonds with others. I stay to myself for that reason." Neteri was close to tears again but vowed not to let them fall. "I love flying and I don't want to give it up. I just wish I could figure out why now I feel like this", she added.
It hit Franklin like a ton of bricks. His eyes widened briefly, before a somber nod. He scratched his chin and sat back in his chair, hefting a heavy sigh as he comprehended the situation - at least he believed he did.
"Let me ask," he said after a pause, "did you and Pavan become....close? As in...more than crewmate close?"
Neteri nearly passed out as she briefly sensed his thoughts. Going white, she sat down heavily in the chair. Looking at the captain, "Pavan and I were very close in as much as we had a relationship beginning. I fell in love with him and we hadn't become intimate just yet. However I did love him and that love was growing each day," she said. "Is that the answer you were looking for sir?," she added.
Franklin noted her complexion change, her expression shifting and her posture change. He nodded slowly to her question.
"It's hard losing those we love," he said, his eyes shifting focus briefly to that of the picture on the display case in the corner of the room. "Sometimes we have chances to make another go at things, sometimes we don't. The worst part of that is that the majority of the time, we don't know how best to move on. How do you think Pavan would feel seeing you like this, right now? What do you think he would say to you?"
Thinking, Neteri looked at Franklin, "I guess.....I guess he tell me to stop crying.......tell me that life goes on and that it was ok to.....seek the comfort and love of another.....," she said wiping her tears away. "Captain, I don't mean to be bold but, you miss your wife very much don't you," she asked him.
Franklin blinked. "I've never had a wife," he replied, staying composed and attentive to her. "I did once have a lover, who I do miss very much," he added, eyes drifting to the picture of the Gorn on his display case, then back to Neteri. "No doubt one day we'll see each other again."
"I.... I'm.... I'm so sorry sir. I misunderstood your emotions. When you looked at the picture .....never mind. Captain forgive me but I have to say this I find you very handsome and very kind as well," Neteri said blushing badly.
The words caught in Franklin's throat as he finally deduced what had been transpiring under his nose. He had concluded before that Neteri had simply been acting out of grief and the reasoning that she needed to be consoled, not that she had loved him. He cleared his throat, nodding slowly as he recomposed himself. He brushed a hand through his hair and smiled towards Neteri.
"I'm Sorry Lieutenant," Franklin said, a tinge of sadness in his tone. "I'm not interested in a relationship right now. Also it's far too soon, in my opinion, for you to consider such things. I understand you're enduring a rather harsh time right now. But seeking....love with me won't help that. No, I believe you're far better than that."
"No captain, seeking love is not in my heart now. My heart has been torn to shreds. I do find you handsome and very kind but wanting that kind of relationship is out of the question. I am only looking for a professional friendly relationship", Neteri said turning red faced.
"I'm sorry I misunderstood," Franklin said, carefully treading a fine line. "I understand and I respect that."
He gazed down, momentarily considering his next words as he twirled his fingers together. He gazed up and gave a soft sigh.
"With all due respect, Neteri, maybe I'm not the best qualified to address this. I'm very sympathetic to what you're experiencing and going through, but after my little misunderstanding maybe I'm not understanding fully. Are you sure the Chief Counselor is not more appropriate to provide some common ground?"
Sighing deflatedly, " Yes captain maybe you are right. I think I will go to the counselor. Thank you for listening and being kind", Neteri said getting up to leave.
"You're welcome," Franklin said, then added belatedly, "and thank you for the trust. I'm sorry for failing you."
"You did not fail me. In fact you helped to give me hope that one day I will be a better person", she said smiling as she left.
Lt. Neteri "Ikran" , Shannon
Cmndr. Franklin Johnson