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Counselor Oliver & PO3 Komasch – "Cast My Memory Back There"

Posted on 2021-03-20 10:50 by Petty Officer 3rd Class Rao Komasch & Ensign Genevieve Oliver M.D., Ph.D.

Mission: Toys in the Attic
Location: Counselor's Office, USS Joshua Norton

Rao had been to a counselor's before, of course. But there was something about showing up someplace new that was daunting to him. He was starting to become anxious for the ship to start feeling like home.

Everything about this ship was different. This ship was brand new. The newest of new – even the ship's class was newly designed. But it was not only the layout of the ship was unfamiliar. The smell. The feel of the engines through the deck, their sound.

Rao took a deep breath and sighed as he touched the panel beside the counselor's door. Had it taken this long to get used to his post on the Gral? It seemed like it was ages ago, seemed like he had lived an entire lifetime aboard that ship – but it was not, and he had not. This ship would feel like home soon enough.

"Good morning, sir," Rao greeted Doctor Oliver once he had been seated in her office. He resisted the urge to chew his fingers.

Genevieve smiled politely to the man sitting across from her, grateful he wasn't a telepath or empath. If he had been, he would've picked up just how startled she still was to hear anyone call her ' sir ' both because of her rank and because of her gender identity. Rank had never mattered to Genevieve over the work she loved, but she was certainly not accustomed to being treated as a superior in most Starfleet circles. Ensigns were at the bottom of the officer totem pole, after all. Though she didn't think he noticed,Oliver was also somewhat unnerved by the newness of the ship. Even though she knew better, she kept getting the feeling but any minute, someone was going to come and tell her she was on the wrong ship and was actually assigned to a rusty tub. "Please feel free to call me Genevieve, at least while we're here. Additional formalities while we're surrounded by such a shiny vessel just feels a bit stiff," she added with a grin. "Besides, i've often heard it said that unlike officers, those in the enlisted corps work for a living."

Rao smiled from ear to ear, surprised to hear the old saying from an officer. He had been just as surprised the first time he had heard it from a human. It was an old saying – one from a time in human culture when competitive insults were still considered en vogue – and Tellarites had one just like it.

It was almost enough to distract him from being asked to call an officer – even a counselor – by her given name. Almost.

"Y-yes, uh. Miss Genevieve." Close enough, perhaps. "Is your new office to your liking?" he wondered. He at least had the benefit of company in his quarters, shared as they were. Less worry about the brand new smell when he had the relatively comforting scent of his new bunkmates, too.

Oliver wondered if she should be honest or polite. She knew the value of small talk in these situations for keeping people as relaxed as possible , but didn't want to insult him by admitting to the strangeness of being in such a space so new. She knew to even appear to complain about a circumstance like that would seem ungrateful, and worse, he might take it as a insult given his role to ensure systems were working properly. "Absolutely. Truthfully, I've been too focused on work to make the space my own, but I do consider myself lucky to serve on such a brand new vessel. How about you? Adjusting to all this shininess?"

"It's exceptionally shiny, si– er... Miss Genevieve." Rao chuckled nervously, but the nerves evaporated as he continued beyond the formality. "I've never served on a brand-new ship. This is only my second long-term assignment. But I'm very honored to have been selected for such a prestigious post. If you could call it that, I suppose. I know there's not much fame in a posting such as this, but it's not the fame I'm after, of course. I'm only trying to do my best for the Tellar and the Federation."

"I've never seen a counselor at the rank of ensign, actually. I thought most of you medical-type folk were commissioned directly to lieutenant, junior grade! But that's likely just an artifact of the stories my great grandfather used to tell me of his ancestors' service for Tellar back and back and back even before the Federation. Silly to suppose Starfleet should still do things the way Tellar did so long ago, I suppose. I'm rambling again, aren't I? You can always interrupt me..."

"It's OK," Genevieve assured with a gentle smile. It would be no surprise she much preferred rambling to the succinct type as even though it required her to pick out the most important details to get to know someone better, it made for an easier connection. "So military service runs in the blood and your family?"

"Well, you could say that," said Rao. He relaxed a bit as the counselor got him talking about himself. "I used to go visit my grandparents out in the country. My grandmother's parents moved in with them when they got too old to live by themselves – and they liked to visit while we were there, even before that."

"And my great-grandfather used to tell me stories about the stories his great-grandfather used to tell him when he was a boy. So. There was Starfleet in my blood back then!" He chuckled.

"My great-grandfather had every story memorized, every detail of the way things were back then. I never really understood why he didn't join Starfleet himself, but. It seemed that he much preferred to tell stories than to live them."

"What about you?" Genevieve asked with genuine interest. "What led you to decide to live your own stories in Starfleet?"

"Well. A friend of mine did it," said Rao. "There wasn't much more to it than that. I, uh. He, ah... Well, when I heard he had done it," he explained, "it just felt like something I was supposed to do, too. And then I did it, and here I am now."

"He, uh... We originally were supposed to have our first assignment together, but I haven't seen him in person since I got selected for the intelligence training. I hear he's doing OK."

"Any particular reason you joined, sir? Oh, uh. Miss Genevieve?" Rao amended.

Oliver found his answer quite intriguing. He was either incredibly impulsive, incredibly close to the friend, or there was more of a story there. Considering his question and her own past, she acknowledged the same was true for herself. "Healing and Starfleet has been part of my adoptive and biological families for a long time, so I suppose you could say certain choices were in my blood. I think it's also fair to say I sought Starfleet as a way to be both independent and to feel connected to the people who saved and shaped my life."

Rao nodded. It was nice for someone to understand. Or at least to pretend to. She was a counselor, after all.

"You were adopted?" he asked. It could be a touchy subject, but she had brought it up herself.

"I was," Genevieve replied with a simple nod. "My parents were killed when I was very young and I was adopted by a couple who worked with them and were two of their closest friends. Certainly others have been through worse and not everyone is given the same opportunities I was, but I truly believe people can overcome many things if given the right support."

"I see." Rao usually did his best to put out of his mind the dangers of service in Starfleet. The fact that people could and did die while out there in space. To lose one's parents...

Well, civil engineers rarely died on the job on Tellar.

"Yes, the right support is, uh... key." He blushed and glanced downward, sorry to be awkward – especially when he had asked the question himself. What else had she said? Something to change the subject? Well. Not quite a different topic, but better than waiting to force her to say something else, perhaps.

"My mother always said it wasn't a competition. You know. When it comes to having it worse."

"That's very true," Oliver replied, feeling a bit guilty for bringing the conversation to a personal and sad place. She was still getting to know the crew and hadn't wanted to be too directive. Still, this was an eval, so she decided to steer the conversation back to him. "So why engineering?"

"It was what I already meant to go to school for." Rao perked up a bit at the opportunity to change the subject. He did not want to seem unconcerned with the counselor's tragic history, but at the same time, he felt powerless to help. And feeling powerless to help always led to awkward silence with Rao.

"My friend, Jatt, and I were both accepted to the same training program at the Technical Services Academy. The one I told you about, where we were guaranteed the same first assignment," he explained. "But I was selected for the special intelligence training course. And he told me to take the opportunity."

"Sorry, I suppose that wasn't what you asked about, was it? Anyway, I love computers. I always have. And to have the opportunity to work with them the way I do in Starfleet... Well, I never would have encountered the same as a civilian."

Genevieve noted this was the second time he had brought up his friend who was supposed to have followed in his footsteps, so to speak. Naturally, she wondered the significance of such a repeat mention. "I'm curious how you felt about being separated from Jatt and being specially selected for this training when you had every expectation that you would be with him?"

"I didn't really like the idea of being separated, not at first. It– well, I told you, the whole reason I joined was because he did. Or. You know, because when he did, it felt like I was supposed to, too," Rao explained.

"But Jatt insisted I had to. He said I would be–" Rao paused, glanced up at Genevieve, and chuckled. "Well, if you'll excuse the language, I believe his exact words were, ‘Rao, you would be a rotten-hoofed, shit-breathed dunderhead if you don't take the training.’"

"So I took it. And we were still together for most of our training after that," he continued. "So things didn't really seem that different. At first. And then we graduated. And I went off on the Gral, and he got an assignment on the Ganymede."

"We kept in touch pretty regularly after that, for a while. But. Well, sending messages to me is a bit of an ordeal. And. Well, before we enlisted, we already hadn't seen each other in years since he moved away, and... I guess it just seems that when we're together, we're yoked at the shoulder. And when we're not... we're not."


"What has that been like for you?" She asked, her voice carrying a genuine note of sympathy. She briefly wondered if the relationship between Jatt and Rao was deeper than friendship, but she didn't want to press too hard too soon. Whatever the nature of their relationship, she imagined it would be difficult to lose a sense of connection with someone who had played such a significant role in his current life.

"Well, I miss him, of course. And I think he misses me. But. I guess for both of us, it's an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing," Rao explained. "I don't know whether that makes me a bad person, but... It's like we go longer and longer between letters until we just... don't really talk any more. Not unless we have something big to share, anyway. He sent me a message while I was on Earth waiting for my next assignment to tell me his sister had a baby."

"He must have thought you an important person in his life to share something so happy," Oliver replied. "Do you think you're a bad person for seeing your relationship as out of sight, out of mind?"

"A bad person. I still couldn't say," Rao shrugged, uncertain. "I might believe someone if they told me so. But we never seem to hold it against each other. We always just pick up right where we left off."

The suggestion he might believe someone if he or she thought him a bad person caught her by surprise. It was an intriguing way to put things. "What works for the two of you, as long as it is healthy and safe, really isn't for anyone else to judge. I am curious about your answer, however. Under what circumstances do you think you would believe someone if they thought you were a bad person?"

"Oh," Rao shrugged, "if they knew me and a thing or two about good people, I suppose." He was famously oblivious about some things. If someone told him he was a bad person, he thought it might be better to take them seriously than to assume there was nothing out of sorts.

"Keeping an open mind and being able to reflect honestly on your faults are not necessarily bad traits to possess," Oliver acknowledged. "There is often a fine line between that and self-doubt. I'm wondering, how do you cope with those sorts of feelings?"

"Cope? Hm. I don't suppose I ever thought of it as something that needed coping with," Rao tapped his chin pensively. "Have I touched on something big?" he chuckled with a hint of nervousness. He hoped there was not time to reconsider his assignment.

Genevieve smiled and held up her hand in apology. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply you exhibit any sort of significant psychological issue. I am just genuinely curious about how you manage any feelings of self-doubt. Self-doubt can impact anyone, of course, but I have found this is particularly true at the start of any new venture. I know sometimes it can be easy to fall into a spiral of self recrimination."

"Ah, well, luckily, I've started using a bit of time-management software Ensign Waterhouse created," said Rao, "and it doesn't allow time for self-recriminating spirals!" He chuckled.

It was a deflection, but a good-natured one and Genevieve chuckled, pretending to write something on her lap. "Robotic precision, got it. I gather you're making friends here?"

"I made a few before I even came on board! Well, at least, I hope they think of me as a friend. They are officers, after all," said Rao. "Don't tell anyone," he added with a grin and a wink to show he was kidding, "but I get the feeling they were interviewing me for the position."

Genevieve smiled. "Officers. You can't live with them, and you can't throw them out an airlock."

Rao burst into laughter.

"Oh, come now, you're not all that bad, sir." He winked. "I am very happy with my supervisors for this assignment. Which is not to say I had any qualms with my assignment on the Gral. All in all, I think Starfleet rather agrees with me. Officers and all."

"I think you and the Joshua Norton agree as well," Genevieve replied with a grin. "Unless you have any specific questions for me or any other issues to discuss, I'm prepared to clear you for duty. Of course, if there's ever anything you need to talk about, I hope you will feel comfortable coming to me in the future."

"Of course, I will," Rao assured the counselor with a smile.

Lori: Any suggestions for a time stamp?

PO3 Rao bem Komasch
Computer and Communications Specialist, USS Joshua Norton

Ensign Genevieve Oliver, M.D., Ph.D.
Forensic Psychiatrist
USS Joshua Norton

 

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