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Same Time Next Week

Posted on Fri Apr 1st, 2022 @ 10:58am by Lieutenant Commander Ebrin Valek & Lieutenant Veznia MD PSyD

Mission: Lower Decks
Location: Counseling Office, USS Astraea

"Honestly, I think we've all been feeling it," Valek said.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than he realized his mistake. He knew better than to assume everyone else was feeling the exact same as him. Even if they'd all been through the same significant experience - an entire planet having appeared out of nowhere, diplomatic negotiations collapsing - that didn't mean they were all reacting in the same way.

"Sorry," he added quickly, correcting himself, "I guess what I meant is that I've been feeling it."

Veznia nodded. "Does is help you to think about the experience as shared?" She asked, her eyes fixed on his mouth.

"Well...yeah, I suppose so," Valek replied, "I mean, I'd hate to think I'm the only one who feels...disappointed? Let down? No, no, that's not it. It's...I'm not sure what the best word is to describe it." He paused a moment and tried to think. The words that came the most readily to mind seemed to either understate the feeling or overshoot it considerably. And yet, it was like it was hovering there...just out of reach. "Whatever the word is, I think I feel less...alone...if others are still wrestling with it, too."

"Do you often feel alone in your thoughts?" Veznia inquired, her eyes were rather neutral looking when she looked at him. She hoped sincerely that he was comfortable with her.

Valek was silent a moment as he considered the question. "I wouldn't say often," he said slowly, trying not to let his words get ahead of his thoughts, "but one does wonder, sometimes...whether the reality of something is as big as it feels. Or am I blowing it out of proportion, you know?"

Veznia shifted in her seat. She repositioned her legs so that she was more comfortable. "Can you give me an example?" She asked, genuinely curious if this was a common occurrence for him.

"I suppose the obvious example would be the negotiations, wouldn't it," Valek replied, not sure whether that was quite the answer the counselor was looking for, "A lot was riding on our being able to broker some sort of arrangement to use the Pathstone. Then the planet appeared out of nowhere and there was that whole investigation and things kind of just spiraled. But we're still here in the Delta Quadrant. They haven't kicked us out or come after us or anything..."

Sitting forward in her seat, Veznia thought for brief moment. "I've found it helps to focus on the things that I can control in those situations. Turning your attention from the big picture to things that are personally manageable."

The Bandi nodded to show he understood. It wasn't the first time someone had offered that bit of advice to him. His first regular counselor had spent a lot of time trying to get him to focus on what could be done rather than what couldn't. Since then, he'd even offered the advice to others. And yet, he also knew just because you could speak it, didn't necessarily mean you were living it. "You're right, of course..."

"It's much easier said than done of course." Vez crossed her legs at the knee."So tell me, what was within your personal control with regards to the negotiations?"

"Well..." Valek said, thinking back, "as strategic operations officer, my main role was to provide the negotiation team with information about Federation and allied assets, those currently in the Delta Quadrant as well as plans for operations in the near future. Basically, I was supposed to keep them up-to-date on what we had available and what we needed."

"And did you do that?" Veznia offered a slight smile. "Keeping the team up to date I mean."


There was a longer pause. Valek knew he could say more, and probably should say more. But he also had a feeling he knew what Vezina would say to him if he did. After all, he'd been down this path more than a few times. If you did everything you could, given the circumstances, she'd say, what more could you have done? How were you supposed to know an entire planet would appear out of nowhere? And the worst part was...she'd be right. But, for some reason, that didn't make him feel any better about it.

The short answer was not unexpected and she assumed he knew what she was thinking about the topic. "Can I ask you something frankly?" Veznia asked, there was a hint of hesitation in her voice.


"When do you think you first felt responsible for something beyond your control?" She asked. She truly hoped the question would shock him into some sort of self realization.

Valek saw what she was doing. He opened his mouth to respond, then paused and closed it again. It had seemed like such an easy question at first, but the moment he thought about it, he realized it wasn't as simple. Naturally, the first thing that'd come to mind was learning that his parents' had been killed in the attack on Mars. He remembered feeling like things might've gone differently if he had been closer to home instead of off in deep space. But there had been other times before that, times when he was younger...

"It seems that you're thinking a lot." Veznia said matter of factly. "In this type of setting that can be both helpful and counter productive. You're either considering the question and all that it entails to present an answer that completely answers it, or you're carefully editing your response so you can answer satisfactorily while being sure not to reveal anything about yourself." She smiled knowingly.

"More of the former," Valek replied with a slight chuckle, "...I hope."

A warm smile grew in Veznia's face. "It's something I'd like you to think a bit more about." Her voice was calm and even as she spoke. There was a quiet chime from a chronometer on the table next to her. "Shall we say, same time next week then?"

Valek nodded in agreement. It never ceased to amaze him how quickly the time went by once they got to talking. And to have something to be thinking about for their next session, that really wasn't unusual, either. "Sounds good to me," he said, returning the Denobulan's smile, "I'll...see you then."


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