Lael Rosek/In So Many Words, Parts I-IV
|Crew of the USS Za|
|Lieutenant Lael Rosek|
IN SO MANY WORDS A Montage Joint Post between Lt. Kaji, LtJG Rosek, & LtJG Tarna
Janel and Lael receive counseling after their ordeal during the Tem'lai mission.
((USS Victory - Deck 5 - Counseling))
- The counseling office was warm and calmly lit. Soft chairs and couches gave her patients a choice in where to sit, and a small desk was set to the side rather than centered in the office. The decor was soft and neutral, creams, browns and pale blues melding peacefully. An aquarium was set in one wall, full of brightly colored fish swimming gracefully around. The air tank made a soft bubbling white noise which Kaji found very soothing. She had chosen her favorite chair, a deep brown leather-style fabric on a solid, metal, rocking frame. It gave her good support for long hours and wasn’t cozy enough to encourage sleep.::
- Kaji watched her patient carefully, trying to catalogue all the body language. Her own posture was deliberately open and relaxed, her eyes and body at a slight angle to appear passive rather than aggressive. She wasn’t in uniform, but wearing a soft purple sweater and black trousers, hoping to make the patient feel at ease. It had been a while, but she hoped her job would come back to her soon. She kept strong mental shields up, wanting to let her patients speak to her in their own words.::
Kaji: Would you tell me about your incarceration?
- Janel’s elbows dug into his knees as he rested his weight on them and pushed his thumbs into his eye sockets, blocking out the room. He didn’t really want to be here. The events of his incarceration had never been far from his thoughts but the things they had done to him were terrible and humiliating. Difficult topics that he’d really rather keep private. A large part of him wanted to be awkward but he also knew if he did that he simply wouldn’t be cleared for duty, instead it would only make the process longer and more drawn out for them both. ::
Tarna: I don’t really know how long we were in the cells. There were no windows, the lighting was constant, you couldn’t get a feel for the passage of time. It was disorienting and the conditions were terrible. No food or water for days, no access to a proper toilet. I’ve never had to hold it in so long in my life but eventually… ::He cleared his throat nervously:: Well, worse than that. ::He stopped and took a quick, sharp breath. He’d been building up to the worse part, saving the hardest bit till last. Difficult as it was he had to say it:: The torture. ::It was all he could utter before clamming up. ::
- Kaji bit her tongue in an effort to control her feelings. This was his session, not hers, though likely she’d be having plenty of her own with Krepok in the near future. Her next question wasn’t really thought through, just an effort to keep him talking so that her mind didn’t drift.::
- Lael glanced around the room, her arms crossed in front of her chest, her twitching foot a betrayal of her anxiety. She hated shrinks. Had since the Academy. They were glorified manipulators who used your own weaknesses against you.::
Kaji: Would you tell me about your incarceration?
Rosek: ::shrugs:: Standard stuff. Tossed in a cell with no food or water with the looming threat of death.
Kaji: And how did you feel about that?
Rosek: ::sombers:: A helluva lot more than I should have...of everything.
- Was it a trick question? How would anyone feel about that? If there was one thing about it though, it was easier to answer. ::
Tarna: Anxious… terrified! Guilty. Angry. Conflicted. Sad, upset… I felt sorry for myself and for Lael because we were in so much pain. ::He paused while considering whether he should mention Lael at all and decided to mention it, at least briefly:: I developed feelings for Lael really quickly too.
- His comment felt like a bit of a diversion, but she let it go and followed his train of thought. They could circle back around to the issue of torture later. She shuddered just a little.::
Kaji: So what was it like having those feelings in such a stressful situation?
Tarna: Confusing! And you know, all of the emotions seemed magnified. Of course I now know it was down to that drug but at the time I couldn’t understand why all of these feelings I had were so strong. I thought I was going insane and it became harder and harder to cope – it was so overwhelming.
Kaji: Do you think those emotions were caused by the stress?
- Janel wasn’t sure specifically which emotions the counsellor was referring to but undoubtedly it was a contributing factor to most if not all of them and of course there was the drug too. ::
Tarna: A contributing factor certainly and that drug didn’t help.
Rosek: ::blushes:: That's private!
Rosek: ::drops her gaze to her hands:: ::murmurs:: You want the honest truth? Well, here it is. ::swallows roughly:: I was kicked off out of the Command track because I couldn't stand the thought of other people being tortured. I was in control--until they dragged him away and hung him in that freezer ::shudders:: It took everything I had to keep a straight face and keep a level head. ::whispers:: I thought I was sparing him by negotiating to take his place. ::scrubs her face with her hands, fighting back tears:: I was on the verge of hypothermia when they took me back. It was worth it though. I'd spared him that. ::shakes her head and rasps:: But no. Instead of just taking him back to his cell, they waterboarded him. ::pauses:: Do you know what waterboarding is?
- Kaji knew more than she wanted to about waterboarding, but the woman was talking openly now so she didn’t want to stop her. She shook her head and motioned for Rosek to continue.::
Rosek: They pour water over your face repeatedly...but not before they put cover your mouth with material. It may not sound like much and you'd think you'd be able to overcome the torture with reason. ::shakes her head:: After a few minutes, all logic goes out the window. You feel like you're slowly suffocating to death, but no matter how much you struggle, you can't break free of it. ::exhales a shaky breath:: God only knows how long he had to endure that.
Kaji: ::trying to stay clear and professional, she asked quietly:: And then what happened?
Rosek: ::clears her throat:: After they brought me back from the freezer, he ::blushes:: We clung to each other for warmth and for comfort. ::shivers:: It wasn't long before they came back for us a second time. A guard, he patted me down--nice and slow. I--I tried to put on a brave face--like they taught us in training. Tried to ignore the whispered, "I'll enjoy breaking you that much more." Tried not to let it faze me. ::a couple tears break free:: ::licks her lips nervously:: On the way out of the cell, the guard--the one who had patted me down--slapped my rear and whispered into my ear ::shudders:: "Maybe you're not as strong and brave as you thought, eh?"
- Kaji felt sick and closed her eyes. She thanked the Almighty Artist that she’d been kept by robotic guards. They hadn’t been terribly gentle, but there also hadn’t been any needless cruelty. Rosek seemed to be lost in memory, possibly not completely aware of who she was talking too, so Kaji stayed quiet.::
Rosek: ::murmurs:: At some point, we started talking, Janel and I--about home, about family, anything but where we were and what was happening. ::smiles:: Strange. We found out that we had a lot in common, namely control-freak mothers who wanted us to be something that we weren't. As I got to know him better, I--::blushes:: there was something between us almost from the start. For my part, it was curiosity. Simple things--like the way he held me, the sound of his voice. ::gaze drops to her hands:: I hadn't been held or touched or talked to that way since my ex-husband Jensar. ::pauses:: Janel reminds me a lot of him. So passionate, so soft-hearted, so considerate. ::laughs softly:: I woke up at one point thinking it was Jensar holding me and I almost kissed him.
Kaji: Did you care for her before the prison?
- Oh. The follow up question suggested perhaps the previous one had been more geared towards his romantic feelings. Fortunately his response had been broad enough to cover that. He shifted position a little, relaxing a touch. Discussing Lael was easier than discussing the other things given how much he cared for her. ::
Tarna: No, we hadn’t met before this mission actually.
Kaji: When did you first kiss him?
Rosek: ::murmurs:: Actually, it wasn't long after that. Somewhere along the line, the topic of our torture came up. ::worries her lip:: He just looked so lost and in so much pain--I just reacted. I was scared that he'd be angry at me for taking advantage. ::breathlessly:: But then he told me he--he liked it. If it hadn't been for my injured ribs and if we hadn't been interrupted...::blushes::
- Talia found it interesting how intertwined her memories of the trauma were with her memories of Tarna. It could result in trouble down the line if she couldn't learn how to compartmentalize. She was having trouble herself separating thoughts of her fellow prisoners with the prison itself. Was it possible to disentangle memories? To forge a completely fresh relationship? She tried to bring the conversation back around to the experience itself.::
Kaji: How did your ribs get broken? During the torture?
Rosek: ::laughs without humor:: I never told him. Not all of it. He asked, but I couldn't bring myself to tell him everything. ::tears flowing freely:: They made me strip off my uniform and told me to get on my knees. When I wouldn't, they forced me down. ::swallows roughly:: Every time I refused to do something they told me, they'd hit or kick me. My abdomen, my face--::exhales shakily:: Then they touched me--groped me like beasts in heat, murmuring filthy things, laughing at me. ::shudders:: Their hands were like fire against my skin, burning and searing. ::gaze drops to her hands:: It was humiliating.
Kaji: ::She grimaced in sympathy.:: I'm sorry.
Kaji: And what are your feelings towards her now?
Tarna: My feelings for her are unchanged. I’m completely crazy in love with her in a way I haven’t been with anyone else. It’s really very intense.
- This was putting it mildly. The two of them could barely keep their hands off each other. Whenever they were around each other it didn’t take long for their attraction to take over. ::
- Kaji smiled a little, thinking of young love and its complete disregard for reality. It was a beautiful, carefree feeling.::
Rosek: ::pauses:: At first when we got back, things were complicated. The drug was barely out of my system and was still working a number on his. I knew how I felt, but...neither of us were sure how he really felt. ::pauses:: We avoided each other for a few days until we ran into each other in the mess hall late one night. And it all just sort of spilled out from there. ::gaze drops to her hands:: I assume you can piece together what happened from there.
Kaji: How did you feel about that development?
Rosek: ::blushes:: It took me completely off guard. It was an instant connection. Uncontrollable attraction. It was inevitable, really. ::smiles:: But instead of fading when we did finally give in to it, it grew stronger. He's the best kind of distraction with the worst timing.
Kaji: Do you think it was too soon to get so serious?
Rosek: Honestly? ::shrugs:: Maybe. ::grins impishly:: But that hasn't really stopped us. Kaji: And what are your feelings towards him now?
- She reflected on recent events.::
Rosek: ::sombers:: As much of a mess as we both are right now, there is one thing I'm certain of. If it came down to my life or his, I wouldn't hesitate to take his place. As for our future... ::shrugs:: bring it on.
- Kaji admired her determination, but the relationship was born out of stress and might not be easy to keep alive. Sometimes it could be easier to die for someone than to live with them from day to day. Would these two ever be able to have an ordinary relationship, and did they even want to? Couples counselling could come later, though. Right now the important thing was to see how she was coping with her recent trauma.::
Kaji: How do you think having those feelings affected your imprisonment?
- Janel glanced up with a wrinkled brow and pinched his ear, rubbing the back of it with his thumb. This was something he’d not given any thought to at all. He didn’t know what to say and remain silent for some time as he mulled it over. Unfortunately his mind was drawing blanks and was completely devoid of thought or input into the matter. As he sat there he began to realise if he had the answer in him it wasn’t going to come easily. ::
Tarna: I don’t know. I hadn’t considered it.
Kaji: Were you able to help each other or was it more of a distraction?
- She wished she’d had a companion for that first agonizing week and a half. Once she was released into the group she’d been able to find 27 and then Shiarrael, but those first days… Alone in the dark, days and hours in that cell. She hadn’t even had her memory to comfort her as they’d stripped it all away like her life, her family…::
- She stood up suddenly, then realized what she was doing and tried to make it look more natural. Walking quietly over to the coffee table, she refilled her mug and returned to her seat. Now, what had he been saying?::
- Kaji stood up suddenly which knocked Janel off his train of thought. It seemed as if something was wrong at first but then she went to refill her mug. He was probably boring her. He’d been starting to get the impression her attention was starting to drift but couldn’t be sure of it. Maybe he was paranoid on top of everything else. If there was caffeine in there maybe it would help her concentrate. He stared at her expectantly, holding off the urge to ask if she was okay. ::
Kaji: Um, I’m sorry, a bit of a headache. But go ahead, I’m listening!
Rosek: ::pauses:: It was peace in a world of chaos...as strange as that sounds. We built our own world and it helped us hold on. Kept us sane.
Kaji: Were you able to help each other or was it more of a distraction?
Rosek: For my part, it made me stronger. Gave me something to fight for. Sure, there were moments of emotional extremes. But overall, we made a good team. ::gaze drops to her hands:: We watched each other's backs...soothed each other's hurts...drew each other back from the brink more times than I can count. He was my anchor and I was his. ::swallows roughly:: I owe him my life and my sanity.
- Finally he picked up that previous notion and told the counsellor his own thoughts about how they helped each other. They had been a distraction to each other at times and at one point there had been a moment in which he’d nearly taken things too far. The memory which was still fresh in his mind brought back all the emotions associated with it for better and worse. ::
Tarna: Well with what little we did get - water, food, extremely basic medical kit at one point, we looked after each other, tended each other’s wounds. Provided moral support. I think the companionship helped. She was comforting and reassuring. I wanted to protect her and it gave me something to live for where I’d otherwise have given up.
Kaji: That’s really good! Sometimes having something or someone to live for is all that gets you through the day, hmm?
Tarna: Heh… yeah I guess so. ::A little nervously::
- She blushed a bit and kicked herself mentally for letting her professionalism slip. Thankfully her dark skin hid the color. Talia braced herself for the next round of questions, ones she had just had to deal with herself recently in her own psych eval on the station. She tried to keep her tone and emotions under control.::
Kaji: Can you tell me more about what drew you to him?
Rosek: ::smiles and nods:: I just wish that he wouldn't be so hard on himself. ::shrugs:: I guess it's a cultural thing. The Joining is really important to him. He thinks it'll make him better. ::sighs:: I can't imagine him being any better than his is when he's himself. ::smiles sadly:: It scares me to think that any part of who he is will be lost during the Joining. I love him for who he is, not who everyone expects him to be.
Kaji: :: A bit of her envied the bond they seemed to share. It had been a long time since she’d felt that way about anyone.:: How well do you know him if you’ve only been together this short time?
Rosek: I have no delusions that he's perfect. He's made choices that I don't agree with and think he's stupid for making. But it's his life and they're his choices to make. All I can do is stand up next him and be there when he needs comfort and encouragement or be his silent strength when he doesn't have the courage to ask.
- Kaji smiled at the younger woman. She admired the strength and determination she saw in her, the way she’d come out of this horror pretty well intact.::
Kaji: All right, well let’s talk about you some more, ok? I’m really pleased with how well you seem to be doing emotionally. Can you tell me more about your attempts to escape?
Tarna: We were held in pretty secure conditions but eventually got our chance when we were put on that ship where we were found. The made the mistake of giving us replicator access. It was restricted but I still managed to get a weapon in the form of a steak knife.
Rosek: ::sombers:: ::gaze drops to her hands:: We only tried once. I only knew part of what Janel went through. He didn't talk about it much except the little bit that I forced out of him. ::pauses:: He started acting...off.
Kaji: ::tilting her head curiously:: What do you mean, “off”?
Rosek: ::pauses:: It's hard to explain. Erratic, I guess? He didn't seem to be thinking things through entirely. ::pauses:: I guess that was the serum.
- Kaji thought it more likely a result of the early head trauma, the serum had been in his system for a while and wouldn’t have done more than magnify his reactions. She didn’t say anything about it, though.::
Kaji: So he was being reckless? What did you want to do?
Rosek: I wanted to wait...bide our time for the right opportunity. But as soon as that ship started landing...::shakes her head:: I knew we had to get out of there, no matter the cost. It would likely be our only chance.
Kaji: Did you run into any guards?
- They had done and he had shown them no mercy. He had delivered, quick, deadly blows. Their suffering would have been minimal but he couldn’t help but feel he was a cold blooded murderer. They hadn’t had the chance to raise weapons, protest, surrender. He hadn’t given them the chance. He felt horrified, guilty, nauseous and remorseful but worse still, a really tiny, spiteful part of hm felt they deserved it for what they collectively had put Lael and himself through. ::
Tarna: Yeah we did, right outside the door. I took an oath to preserve life, and I didn’t even give him a chance to surrender. I was convinced that he would kill us or at the very least attract more guards to us. I used my anatomical knowledge to slay him - it was so easy… and terrible. I can’t help wondering things like... did he have a family to support?
- His horror at his actions sparked memories of her own. A guard screaming as she violated his mind, dozens on the ground wailing from her mental blasts. Bile rose in her throat and she had to reach for her coffee.::
Kaji: Umm. ::clearing her throat.:: Tell me more about how that affected you.
Rosek: ::grimaces:: I started to doubt him. I didn't like it. It made me uncomfortable around him.
- Kaji swallowed, remembering the way Shiarrael had looked at her after their escape. Of course, the Romulan woman hadn’t been frightened, just concerned.::
Kaji: What did you do?
Rosek: ::breathes:: It wasn't long before I had to make a choice.
Tarna: I saw the light die in his eyes, I watched life slip away from him. It was all the worse for knowing that I was responsible, that I intended it. ::He threw his hands up a little:: I just don’t even know how to begin to process all of this. I keep seeing my victims, as much as I see the bonfire, see my tormentors, it’s all there in my head going around and around like a tornado. It’s hard to sleep, hard to concentrate. I feel miserable all the time.
- He was waffling now and finally trailed off into uncomfortable silence. He was stuck between being unable to sleep for days on end, followed by periods where he seriously struggled to keep his eyes open and get up. Time just slipped away from him but it didn’t matter because awake or asleep, everything kept bothering him. ::
Kaji: A choice? :: she was keeping her responses short and quiet, more to facilitate Rosek’s talking than actually asking for information.::
Rosek: Between killing to save Janel and letting him die. ::lips tighten:: The latter wasn't an option...so I did what I had to do. ::pauses:: I thought the guilt would be overwhelming. But all I felt was relief. Relief that he couldn't hurt Janel anymore.
Kaji: How do you feel about it now?
Rosek: ::murmurs:: I have a new appreciation for why so many people hate Romulans.
- Talia bit her lip. Shiarrael had become a dear friend to her, and the undertone of hatred for her species among the crew made Talia worry. She knew the ex-assassin could handle herself, but it would make for a pretty hostile work environment. It took a lot of willpower for Kaji to refocus the conversation rather than start defending her friend’s species.::
Kaji: Is that when you were wounded? Um, I mean the head injury. ::She had gotten a peek at his medical records and knew that the extent of the damage couldn’t be explained by just one fight. Days of torture and abuse, then a few terrible fights had caused massive injuries.::
Tarna: Oh yes, but I had to fight a few guards and even before we escaped I’d suffered quite a few beatings.
- He hadn’t talked of the specifics of the tortures he had endured, like being hung up in a freezer surrounded by diseased, dead bodies in the dark, the water boarding or the humiliation of being subservient to his captors. He shuddered at the thought but remained silent. If she was satisfied with the vague answer he had no wish to dredge up those memories again. ::
Kaji: So, was that when Tarna’s head was injured? During that fight?
Rosek: The worst of it, yes.
Kaji: How did that affect you, having to care for him?
Rosek: ::murmurs:: I didn't mind caring for him. But by that point, I could tell he was starting to slip away. He was showing signs of serious brain trauma even early on. His thinking process was slowed down, he was struggling to remain awake... ::sucks in a sharp breath:: I wanted to believe that he was just exhausted from being awake for days...but I knew better. ::winces:: The sound it made when his head hit the deck time after time... ::shiver:: There was no way he didn't have brain trauma.
Kaji: So, that’s about the point where the rescue team showed up, right? Tell me about that!
Rosek: ::smiles wanly:: I was so relieved I wanted to cry.
Kaji: So what did they do?
Rosek: ::gaze drops to her hands:: They wanted me to go back to the ship. ::shakes her head:: As worried as I was about Janel, I couldn't. We'd been through too much trying to retrieve those vials. I had to see it through...if not for my sake, then for his to make sure that everything he'd gone through hadn't been for nothing.
Kaji: And were you able to?
Rosek: ::murmurs:: I didn't retrieve them myself, but I was able to bring them back myself.
Kaji: What did that feel like?
Rosek: Relief. Closure.
- Kaji smiled at the girl. This seemed like a good place to close off the conversation, to end on a cheerful note. There was more to get into later, but today she’d wanted to get a big picture view of the lieutenant’s state of mind. She smiled and leaned back in her seat. ::
Kaji: Well, I think this has been an excellent start. Do you have any questions or concerns?
- Lael shook her head.::
Kaji: Ok, well I would like to close here for the day. I want to talk to you more, to get into some of the deeper things, but we can figure that out together, ok?
- Lael wasn't normally overly fond of shrinks, but there was something different about Kaji. The woman's eyes were dark and lacked the pupils found in Human eyes, making it difficult to read her moods by her eyes alone, which had made Lael uneasy at first. But as she'd studied Kaji, she'd become more able to understand the Rodulan's facial expressions and non-verbal cues. The more time that she spent in Kaji's company, the more comfortable she would become.::
Rosek: ::smiles:: Of course.
Kaji: Well, I’d like to set up a weekly appointment, as much as our missions will permit. I can schedule you in, if you’d like.
Rosek: ::nods:: Let's just set it at the same day and time every week and I'll let you know as soon as possible if something is going to conflict with that so we can reschedule.
- They took care of the details, matching their schedules and such. As the other woman got ready to leave, Kaji stood and spoke quietly.::
Kaji: You’re doing very well at holding yourself together, but it might be good to talk to a friend. Janel’s not in a place to comfort you, but someone needs to. Perhaps a family member?
Rosek: ::pauses and murmurs:: I talk to my younger brother as often as I can. He's been really supportive.
Kaji: Oh, and I forgot to ask! How are you sleeping?
- Talia shuddered, thinking of her own nightmares that plagued her. She couldn’t sleep in the dark anymore, and had even set up a tiny camera in Ben’s room so that she could check on him at any time.::
- Lael hesitated, not sure if she really wanted to go into detail about the nightmares just yet. They encompassed far more sensitive topics than her kidnapping and torture on Temlai.::
Rosek: I sleep all right.
Kaji: Well, I’ll put a sleeping medication into your replicator patterns so you can get it yourself if you need it.
Rosek: ::nods and murmurs:: Thank you. See you next week.
- Without another word, she strode out of Kaji's office, then exiting Sickbay.::
- As she strode back to her quarters, she couldn't help but feel a certain amount of relief, like a giant burden had been lifted from her shoulders. It had felt good to talk about things--helped her to sort them out and put them in their proper places. Some memories she never wanted to see again as long as she lived. But others--like the way it felt when Janel held her and kissed her, the sound of his laugh, the way his smile turned her to goo, the passion he had for wildlife and holophotography--she added to the collection of her favorites, ones she could draw on for strength when she wanted nothing more than to give up. With any luck, more sessions with Kaji would mean more memories to add to that category.::