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Lunchtime Counseling

Posted on Tuesday, 2 June 2020 - 10:47am by Lieutenant Talarn Zilth

Mission: Operation: Recall
Location: USS Standing Bear | Mess Hall
Timeline: 2393 Just before lauch from Station


Eyelaya sat at the table in the Enlisted mess hall. She stared out the window thinking about the away mission. It had been several days since their return, the new CO was getting used to the ship and she'd met another part Borg friend. She had just let her mind wander to him when she saw him enter. She waved enthusiastically. "Talarn!"

Talarn was still very uncomfortable being back on a Starfleet vessel. He had given so much of his life to this organization, and yet it had seemed so easy for them to kick him to the curb without even a "thank you for your service". He had intended to grab food, perhaps a drink and return to the quarters he shared with Barret, but now this. He recognized the Engineer from the help she had given him when he first came onboard.

Talarn did the opposite of what most people did when they saw someone they knew. Instead of smiling, he frowned, his brow ridges furrowing. He stopped moving forward and even seemed to be frozen in place for a moment. She said his name so he couldn't even be confused about who she might be talking to. Finally, he lifted one hand awkwardly and started to walk towards where she was seated. "Chief... how are you?"

"Most excellent." She motioned. "Have a seat." She grinned from ear to ear. "How are you? How are you feeling? How are you adjusting? How are your quarters? What's new?" She hadn't seemed to take a breath.

He sat and then stared at her, his eyes widening. The little light on the panel over his right eye started to blink faster, even though Talarn's expression didn't change much. "You... you should breathe. It's necessary. I am physically well, operating within normal parameters. I am not... adjusting." His head tipped to the side and his eyes searched the table top. "Our quarters are... small. Nothing is new. " His gaze shifted back to her briefly and then back to the table top. "I..." he started and then wondered why he was going to tell this girl something about his personal life and stopped himself. He shrugged instead, slowly and once again, awkwardly.

A look of concern crossed her face. She reached over and touched his hand. "You? It's alright. You can trust me."

Talarn closed his eyes for a moment and tried really hard not to yank his hand back in reflex. His hand twitched, but he succeeded. "You are not my counselor. You shouldn't have to listen." He followed his statement up with a very small laugh. "It's just very uncomfortable... I have spent too much time outside in the open. It is hard to adjust to being inside all the time without fresh air. The holodeck is a... weak facsimile." It was obvious that there was more, but he still seemed reluctant to share.

"Well, I am not your counselor but I would like to be your friend." She could feel there was more. She decided to broach things slowly. "It's hard for me to adjust too. My favourite time was on Vulcan. I could go out into the dessert and it all felt open. Stations were big, but we had a planet below, this is not the funniest place to be trapped. As an Engineer I know everything that can go wrong. Seriously, there are nights when I can't sleep, but there is one spot on the ship that makes me feel better. Well two." She grinned. "Will you let me show you?" She hoped that he'd be comfortable enough to share. "And I know there is more bothering you so hopefully you'll share when you're ready. I'm here to listen." She looked around. "It can't be easy here. I can only imagine what you've been through with respect to Starfleet." She removed her hand from his sensing that he was not comfortable.

Talarn nodded, despite his misgivings. "You may show me if you wish... I just..." He paused again. "The hardest part of this is my lack of time with Bar... I mean Captain Stillwater." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I apologize if my comments are inappropriate."

She got it now. "Ahh. Well love is something you never have to apologize for." She patted his hand. "He's settling in now, so it will be rough, but I am sure he misses you as well."

"It is a rather new concept for me as well, to be honest. It wasn't like I got a chance before I was Borg and then after... it wasn't really an option for a long time or at least I didn't think it was. Captain Stillwater changed my mind. Sometimes it is still hard for me to label emotions." He glanced at the replicators. "Would it be alright with you if I ate lunch?"

She grinned. "Of course. I'll join you. Today is my try new food day!" She said with enthusiasm. "I hate trying new food, but hey, it's a little challenge I give myself."

He tipped his head curiously. "If you hate trying new food, why do you do it? I understand that it might be interesting, but..." He shook his head. Whatever her reasons it was an entertaining exercise. "What are you going to try today?"

She grinned. "It's a way to challenge myself," she said. "I'm uncomfortable a lot. I am not big on crowds, I have no tact. I have sensitivities to noise and I hate change... I'm a mess. So, trying something new every week gives me a bit of control on change and it lets me challenge myself to try something new. I was going to have a Bolian dish. It's a stew of veggies and their equivalent of beef." She paused. "Join me?"

Talarn nodded. "I'd like that. It sounds good. Barret and I made stew a lot. It's hearty and leaves a lot of leftovers. What do you mean their equivalent of beef?" He wondered what exactly Bolians equivocated to beef, fairly certain that there wasn't another animal that tasted exactly like cows.

"Stews can be fun. Well, it's an animal that produces milk, it also is the size of an ox and has horns. They eat the animal, but there is a whole ceremony to it. The replicator does a good imitation I hear... I've never really tried real meat that wasn't replicated." She ordered the stew for them. "What are you thinking for dessert?"

"Dessert? For lunch? Barret and I used to eat the chickens... and sometimes we would get part of a cow or a pig. What do you eat for lunch dessert?" Once again he was curious. Barret and himself didn't usually eat dessert with lunch, that was often saved for dinner if they had dessert at all.

She grinned big. "I go with chocolate cake everyday, cause if I eat something bad then I know I have chocolate cake to look forward to."

Talarn chuckled softly, the first time he had laughed in front of her. "You are always an optimist? I will have chocolate cake as well. Do you think there is ice cream? Ice cream with cake seems appropriate. Yes?"

"Absolutely!" She grinned. "Now you're thinking. What kind of ice cream would you like?"

"Vanilla? It goes well with chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream seems too much with the cake." He was smiling a little. He was a little resistant at first to making friends, but without assignments to work on he really didn't know what else to do with himself aside from exactly what he was doing.

She grinned. "Great choice!" She placed the order in the replicator and then picked up the huge tray. "Let's go get a table." She carried the tray over to the table and they sat down. She smiled. "Okay, ready for some good grub?"

Talarn tried to help, but she took the tray. Once they were at the table he helped unload the large tray so they could set it aside and eat. "I have to admit that it smells good. I guess. I'm not so sure that my sense of taste and smell is really all that great anymore."

"How come?" she asked.

Talarn chuckled again, smiling slightly. "To be honest... I didn't even really realize how bad those senses were until I came to live with Barret... I hope that you don't mind that I call him Barret. It just seems awkward to me to call him Captain when he's... more than that to me." He looked up at her from the food. "He would cook, taught me to cook. Sometimes we burned things. I would still eat it, not always knowing it was burnt. At first, he would get angry and take it away, feeling that I was more worried about wasting food then I was about how it tasted. Once he understood that I really couldn't taste the char his attitude about it changed. Then we started to explore what I could and couldn't taste. I can't taste most things..." He chuckled again.

She smiled. "He's your husband. Of course I don't mind." She thought a moment. "Hmm... the lack of taste could be a mechanical component issue. My old CO's wife, as I said she was ex Borg and she had something similar. There is a way to tune it if you like." Then she looked at him. "But I love your story about exploring food. It sounds... romantic." She looked at Talarn. "Do you know how to fix replicators?" She had an idea.

Talarn nodded, wondering what she was on about. "I do... although it has been a long time since I really had to do it, so it might take me a few moments to remember. The Borg components of my brain do sort of allow for a type of identic memory... but I wouldn't describe the way the information is stored as perfect recall."

"Still good. Would you like to help me fix some?"

His head tipped back the other way. For a moment he had no idea how to respond. He actually took several mouthfuls of stew before he was able to respond in any way. Anyone watching him might think he was angrily eating, but it was actually some rather intense concentration. He finally nodded. "Sorry... yes... yes I would love to help you fix some. Is that going to be okay if I do that?" Then he remembered that the Captain was Barret. It made him feel a little more confident that he would probably not be in trouble for helping out.

"Of course it is. I've been put in charge of replicator fixes." She always seemed to get those jobs but she didn't mind. She'd worked with Henderson, but he'd transferred now. She'd be going this alone and she wanted some company. She also knew her new friend might be lonely and probably didn't have a lot to do. She hoped that his rank would be re-instated. She smiled. "Glad to have you aboard. We can start tomorrow morning, if that's okay."

Talarn nodded, his smile broadening. "Yes, that would be okay. You don't happen to have anything I can help with after lunch do you? I'm sort of feeling a little... stuck? Bored? I do not think it's healthy to just sit in our quarters and be upset about things I cannot change. It isn't helping. I know when Barret and I first arrived on Prairie, keeping my hands busy often occupied my mind away from the thoughts that were upsetting me."

She thought for a moment. "Well actually. I'm working on a personal project. I could use some help. It's to help keep away teams safer."

Talarn perked up a bit. "I was Barret's Chief Intelligence Officer for seven years... I might be able to help with that. I've been told I'm very good at tactics."

She smiled. "Excellent." She studied the Cardassian. "I'm glad you're here, Talarn."

Talarn frowned. "I... thank you?" he sort of stammered, not really sure how to feel yet about being on a ship again. He had to admit that it was slowly getting better and felt, in a lot of ways, that this was just one more step towards settling in and a positive one at that.

They had both, by this time, consumed the stew and were now digging into the cake and ice cream. "Now comes the good part!" She grinned. "So tell me how you and your husband met."

Talarn smiled. A real smile this time. "I served under him on the Winona as his Chief of Intelligence for seven years. At least that was how we met. The relationship part came later. It started before I was stripped of my rank. I honestly never expected him to retire. I had thought I had lost him, until he found me with the prospect of Prairie."

"OHHHH, you can't leave a hopeless romantic hanging." She laughed. "From the top, Mister!"

Talarn laughed softly. "Really? What do you want to know?" He was totally amused that what she had asked about was his relationship. He hadn't expected anyone to be all that interested. "He had to initiate it... you know. I really didn't think any of that was possible for me. I mean... who would want this?" He made an overall gesture, indicating his ex-Borg self.

"Absolutely. He'd be pretty dumb to pass you up. Now, how did he ask you out? Was it extremely romantic? How did you know you liked him? Who asked who to marry them?" She was all ears.

Talarn laughed again, harder this time. "I don't remember if there was a way... that he asked. He just asked. It started as drinks. Then one night... he kissed me." Talarn shrugged. "I was shocked... of course, but being what I am, who am I to refuse someone who wishes to show me affection? I'm not sure that romantic applies to much of our first steps into a relationship. It was... difficult. I was difficult."

Eyelaya looked shocked a moment. "Are you saying that you didn't love him? That you only said yes because you thought you could do no better?" That's what his phrases sound like. "Now see here," she said, somewhat passionately. "If that man didn't love you he wouldn't have made the offer, he wouldn't have kissed you. Who you are is a tall attractive Cardassian ex-Borg male. What you are is a being who deserves love and respect, so please tell me you loved him when you said yes."

Talarn frowned, his brow ridges furrowing. "Loved him... on our first date?" he queried. He had been speaking of their first and second "dates". "I'm not sure then... but when I said "yes" to marriage? Of course I loved him... and still do?" He wasn't quite sure what she was suggesting. Sometimes love was still confusing to him.

"Good!" she said, smiling. "What was your first kiss like? Did you know you'd be together forever?" She got a bit of a dreamy tone to her voice.

"Our first kiss was a surprise to me and I had no idea that we'd be together. In any sort of capacity. Like I said, I didn't really think a relationship was possible, not because I didn't believe I deserved it, but because physically... I mean... Borg... I didn't... think I could. I'm not saying I didn't welcome it, or try really hard to make the relationship work, but being Borg for so long... my body wasn't in the same place my mind was. If that makes any sense."

She grinned. "It does, but he was the man to awaken that passion in you right?" She sighed. "How romantic."

Talarn laughed. "He was... definitely. To be honest he was the man that showed me what passion really was and romance. Like I said earlier, I didn't even really have any relationships before I was Borg, so I had nothing to go on. It wasn't that I didn't believe I was deserving, I just didn't really know what it was or what it's purpose could be in my life. Barret changed all of that."

She smiled and sighed. "I tell you what. You have just melted my heart. Now, let's finish and get some work done and you can tell me more, so I can live vicariously."

Talarn snorted. "I see... just using me," he joked, as he nodded in agreement.



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