SIM:Lt. Aresee Ventu & Capt. Robin Phoenix - "Counseling"

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Cmdr. Lily Ventu
Commading Officer
Starbase 118 Operations

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238311.23 (November 23, 2006)

(( Sickbay ))

:: With the captain still in sickbay, Aresee really was able to be "right over." She zipped out of her office, into sickbay proper, then back into the little room Robin had specified. ::

VENTU: Captain?

:: Oh, there she was. She was still tiny, but...perhaps a little less so? Robin, about the size of a 7 year old girl, turned around and smiled as she heard Ventu's kind voice.:: ::

PHOENIX: Ah, welcome in my humble home.

VENTU: Thank you.

PHOENIX: Please... ::motioning to one of the few chairs in the room.::

:: Ventu took the chair that was offered her, and Robin sat down on one of the chairs as well. She folded her legs, but quickly undid that move for her legs were still a bit too short.::

PHOENIX: So, what's on your mind counselor?

VENTU: I wanted to let you know how my conversation with Mr. van Ingen went.

:: Robin smiled briefly when she thought of the difficult Mister van Ingen. That must have been some conversation. ::

PHOENIX: I appreciate that, Aresee. How did it go?

VENTU: Rather well, actually. He is rather...confrontational...but I think I made some progress.

PHOENIX: I see. Progress... ::Robin frowned out of curiosity.:: ... has he been insulting, again? It seems to me that is his favorite gig. He could become quite problematic.

VENTU: Oh, there's more to Mr. van Ingen, don't worry about that.

:: Something told her the counselor has something else on her mind besides the illustrious Theo. Having been a counselor, Robin had a fair idea on what the other subject could be. ::

PHOENIX: Good to know you have him under control then Aresee. ::pause.:: But, something tells me that is not the only reason for your kind visit.

VENTU: Well, to be honest, I also wanted to speak with you

:: Robin smiled gently. The crew had been extremely kind and patient with her since the transporter accident. Sure, it was the counselor's job to care. But Robin knew very well how fragile her position was aboard at the time, even though almost every crewmember kept treating her as the Captain.::

PHOENIX: There is very `little' to say really.

:: Her self-pun did not reach the counselor's humor muscles. Robin knew it was not Aresee's but her own mistake. The counselor was quite serious with her question, Robin realized that. She changed her expression from joking to serious, and let her true emotions get closer to the surface. After all, she was talking to a fellow counselor. She knew telling the truth made more sense at this time. In fact, it would probably make her feel somewhat better.::

VENTU: How are you holding up?

PHOENIX: You tell me. ::short pause.:: I have been shrunken. Relieved of command. Limited to sickbay. Under investigation and there is a good possibility I will have to quit my career if things do not clear up, living the rest of my live as a small person. Bound to medicine and massages by a Bynar, though that last point is not too bad honestly. ::the sarcasm was obvious, so was the personal pain.::

VENTU: ::nodding:: It would be hard on anyone.

PHOENIX: I suppose so, but I am not anyone. I'm supposed to be the strong and immortal Captain.

:: Robin sighed as she paused and got up from her chair. She walked to the nearest wall, touched the black material of the wall terminal and turned around.::

PHOENIX: I do not know to what extent you are aware of my past, but I had to endure a change of body once before. ::expressing pain and frustration somewhat.:: I am not sure I can get through it again. I am not sure I can continue the responsibilities of commanding officer I so much love and care about.

VENTU: Everyone thinks you're still doing an amazing job. No one thinks less of you for this accident.

PHOENIX: You are wrong, Counselor. Starfleet does. Two words: Van Ingen.

VENTU: Van Ingen's purpose here is the result of a misunderstanding.

PHOENIX: The only misunderstanding was that of the transporter prior to shrinking me. ::pause.:: I don't know, perhaps Starfleet is right in accusing me of malpractice and failing in command. I mean, look at me, can you blame them?

VENTU: ::shaking her head:: No, that's not it. I'm sure Starfleet just wants to be thorough.

PHOENIX: You are too kind, Counselor.

:: Slowly, Robin walked back towards her chair but did not sit down. As she walked, she continued her response.::

PHOENIX: But I know some crewmembers must have doubts and second thoughts about me. I mean, could you blame them? What kind of Captain shows such weakness and stupidity?

VENTU: No. I've spoken with many crewmembers, Captain... ...Robin. No one thinks any less of you. No one doubts your capabilities. ::beat:: No one trusts you any less.

:: Knowing sharing her inner most thoughts and feelings with the counselor was not something many Captains did. But Ventu had touched a delicate issue, and she was probably right about it. However, Robin's damaged pride and self-esteem was somewhat trying to get out although she had barely displayed it to her shipmates. Being alone with a good and friendly counselor made her feel somewhat at ease to talk. Of course, having been a counselor, Robin knew it was vital to get all her frustrations on the surface to face them in order to go on with her life. Whatever that would look like.::

PHOENIX: Oh, I am sure most of the crew tell each other they still respect and fully trust their miniature Captain. But you and I know that is only temporary. Once they realize how serious my condition could be, they will soon be looking for a capable successor.

VENTU: ::bluntly:: I don't think so. The crew doesn't base their opinion of you on what you look like. ::beat:: They *do* still trust you.

PHOENIX: You are wrong, Counselor. There is someone aboard who no longer has trust in my capabilities as commanding officer, and I do not mean Theo. ::short pause.:: That person, is me.

VENTU: But why? You haven't changed, not really. I mean, you're still Robin Phoenix, and no one...nothing. ..can change that.

PHOENIX: Come on, Aresee. You know better than that. The truth is, my career, my life, as it has been is over. You know that, the crew knows that and I know that. It is only a matter of time before everyone has no choice but to turn their backs to me. I mean, come on... there is only so much a Captain can afford. Who's going to take me serious looking and acting like this?!?

VENTU: *Everyone*. Did you think we would abandon you?

:: Robin leaned on the back of the chair, shaking her head.::

PHOENIX: I know, I know. Without wanting to sound ungrateful, because I AM grateful... the medicine Julia and the labrats have come up with has been useful, but is threatening my life as well. You know what almost happened. Next time, I might not even survive.

:: Turning on her heel and slowly walking back to the wall terminal which was still shut off and thus black.::

PHOENIX: Sure, Diamond is taking care of the ship and watching over me. Harden, Wadham, Fanel, Hunnicutt, Proud, Stone, even Barnes and Kayne are trying to make me feel better. Showing interest and care, treating me still as their Captain. But for how long? When will they realize, my reign is over.

VENTU: It's not something for them to realize or not realize, Robin. When you give up, they have no choice but to give up, too.

PHOENIX: I am very well aware I am sounding negative. But, and forgive me for saying so, is it not the fact the crew might be viewing things too positively? Are they not holding on to the past or even their own desires?

VENTU: What are their desires right now? To restore you? To make you how you used to be? Perhaps. But perhaps they only want their captain back, no matter what package she comes in.

PHOENIX: Maybe you are right, maybe not. ::sighing while sitting down once more.:: But answer me this; Would you serve a Captain who is obvious constantly taking her crew and ship to the edge? Right up to the point Starfleet is issuing an investigation?

VENTU: Maybe I wouldn't. But this is different - your condition does not affect your ability to effectively captain this ship. In this case, Starfleet is wrong - they are refusing to see past your physical appearance.

PHOENIX: At first, I thought so as well. But... what if Starfleet is right? What if I have indeed proven not to be good Captain material? I mean... there must be some truth in their conclusions, otherwise they would not have send such a man as Theo van Ingen. Right?

VENTU: Robin, you've had precious little time to prove your mettle. If Starfleet wasn't happy the job you've been doing, they would demote you, not sneak around and send someone like van Ingen. ::beat:: Unless...the subject...has already made her own conclusions.

:: The counselor's remark hit home. She was indeed doubting herself, and with good reason, or so she thought. Was she being pessimistic? Was she bending the truth while feeling sorry for herself? Could it be… had she given up on herself?::

PHOENIX: I... I do not know what to say, Aresee. ::pause.:: Please understand, it is not easy for me talking so openly. Even harder to get honest and direct feedback on such a fragile subject, which is on a quite personal level. ::pause.:: When I became Captain of this wonderful ship and marvelous crew, I swore to keep them safe. I promised myself to care for them and make sure no unnecessary risk would even touch them. I made it a fact not to share too much personal information with them in order to keep the image a Captain needs; powerful, wise, immortal yes perhaps even untouchable. ::another short pause.:: But now...

:: Robin lowered her head somewhat. She could no longer hold them. The tears were staring to come, one by one, as they slowly rolled down her cheeks. Never, in her whole career, has she shared her pain, cries or other mammoth emotions like this with a member of her crew. Or, even her friends.::

VENTU: ::taking Robin's hand in hers:: No one can expect you to be immortal, or untouchable. They...*we*. ..don't want a god. We want someone to lead us well, someone to trust, someone who will keep us as safe as is humanly possible. ::beat:: You've done all that and more. You have exceeded everyone's expectations, even Starfleet's, even if they don't know it yet. You haven't failed us in any way.

PHOENIX: Yes... ::wiping her eyes.::... that is exactly it. I... ::sob.::... I failed. I failed my crew, my ship... myself.

VENTU: No. *No*! You didn't. You can't...mustn' t think you have. You have to remember that: It's not your fault. Things change all the time, and we have to adapt. That's what it means to be human, to live... We have to change.

PHOENIX: ::in tears.:: I... I do not know... how? I have been though this before. I was male once, you know the story. I barely survived that change. How could I do so again and contain my image as good and trustworthy leader? No... I doubt I can get away with it this time.

VENTU: You can. The only thing standing in your way is you.

PHOENIX: ::flinging away a tear with a rub of her left hand.:: The old story counselor. ::she took a deep breath and then looked at the counselor, showing obvious psychological difficulty in her eyes.:: I know I should stay positive... you are absolutely correct... but I find it difficult. ::pause.:: Difficult to once again adapt to my body undergoing such major changes. Why does this keep happening to me?

:: Robin lowered her head as another uncontrollable session of tears and soft cries rose to the surface. Aresee moved her chair over to sit by Robin, and put her hand around the smaller woman's shoulders. The warm touch of the lady's hand comforted the small captain somewhat, and calmed her down a bit as a result.::

VENTU: I'm sorry. Sorry for so much of this. It's not fair. You're the captain; everyone trusts you. ::hanging her head:: It should have been me.

:: With a swift movement of her head, Robin glanced at her friend and counselor with big reddened eyes. The shrunken captain shook her head as she responded as well as renounced the counselor's remark.::

PHOENIX: Do not be absurd, Aresee... why the hell should it have been you instead of me?

VENTU: Because, when the console exploded, and everything was short-circuiting.... You shouldn't even have been there! ::beat:: I'm sorry.

PHOENIX: Ludicrous, nonsense... it could have happened at any given time, there was no way to warn me or advise me to leave the bridge at the time. Besides, the bridge is where I was supposed to be. There was absolutely nothing...

:: Then it hit her. Well played, counselor. Robin sighed silently as she realized what the good and pretty counselor was doing. ::

PHOENIX: oO Oh, very clever... very clever indeed.Oo I see your point Aresee... ::she smiled as she patted the counselor carefully on her shoulder.:: Still... I am not sure what to do about it.

VENTU: I guess what it comes down to is that we can't do anything about it now. We just have

PHOENIX: ::nodding somewhat.:: Live... ::sigh.::

VENTU: Just remember: You have friends here. You're not alone.

:: Though Robin nodded, it was her opinion a Captain should not show her dirty laundry out in the open. What good Captain would? Or... would a GOOD Captain know how to share such things wisely after all?::

PHOENIX: I realize that, Aresee. But being a Captain, I should not...

VENTU: I know, I know. The captain is supposed to be aloof; she's not supposed to have friendships with her crew. Nonsense. I consider you one of my friends, and I feel privileged to do so. And I know others feel the same...Julia, Paul Diamond...the whole command crew, I'd think. And does that compromise the famed impartiality of the captain? ::beat:: Well, I don't care. Because you need friends more than you need crewmates or subordinates right now.

:: Letting the kind counselor's words sink in for a few seconds, Robin slowly began to feel just a tad better then before the conversation. Aresee could be right. Perhaps she should learn to let go of her rank and `perfect image' when the situation and times called for it. Ha... after all, she was no longer the Captain at the moment anyway.::

PHOENIX: Oh god, why do I find it so hard to do what you just said? I mean, ::pointing both hands to her chest.:: I have been a counselor, I know what the solution for other men's problems are... I know self-pity and image preservation is futile in cases like this. ::beat.:: I guess you are right Aresee. ::nodding and taking the counselor's hands.:: Yes, you are right. But I need guidance I guess.

:: Robin stood and walked a few passes through the small glass room.::

PHOENIX: Guidance, because you are right, I can not face this alone.

:: She turned to look at Ventu.::

PHOENIX: I need to trust my friends, especially if I hope to return to my position as Captain in the near future. But I can not bother them all right now. Not with such a delicate mission at hand.

:: Walking closer to Aresee, Robin briefly smiled as she once again reached for Ventu's warm and soothing hands.::

PHOENIX: Will you please be my guide? My source of life inspiration, someone to discuss my present and future with? ::pause.:: I know you will consider it your duty, but I would appreciate it if you would not look at this purely professional, but as a friend as well.

VENTU: I would never do any less. Never.

PHOENIX: In all fairness, I will not be an easy patient... I have been a counselor before so I probably know many of your psychological tricks. It will be challenging and exhausting for you as well. I... I will understand it if you decline my request.

VENTU: ::kindly, but forcefully:: Robin, didn't you hear me? ::beat:: I had my chance to leave. I stayed, and I'm staying now. Whatever happens now, it happens to both of us.

:: Again, tears came to the petite female's eyes. But not because of sorrow, but because of the pure happiness the counselor made her realize she was not alone at all. Far from it.::

PHOENIX: Thank you... Aresee. For now... for the future... for everything, whatever the outcome.

VENTU: Forever. We'll meet whatever comes at us, and beat it. Because...we can't lose. Not won't - can't. We'll always be successful.

PHOENIX: ::whipping her last tears of the day away.:: We will. But for now, I think you have a party to go to. ::smiling slightly.:: Go, and enjoy yourself after this emotionally exhausting session. Please, give my regards to the crew and diplomatic parties. I wish I could go myself, but I can't.

VENTU: I understand, and so will they.

:: At that moment, a operations officer peeked around the corner. Which was of course, against the visiting protocol ordered by Diamond. But in this case, Diamond probably would not object.::

HARRISSON: Ehr... apologies for the interruption. .. ladies. But, ehr... Lieutenant Wadham had finished constructing a live audio and visual feed of the party. That way, Captain, you can enjoy the festivities to the fullest… under the circumstances.

PHOENIX: Thank you, Crewman Harrisson. Please expand my thanks to Mister Wadham.

HARRISSON: No problem... ma'am. :: placing the curtain back in place.:: ... no problem at all.

VENTU: ::smiling:: Your personal party channel. I wonder what else you could watch on that little screen? ::more serious:: Will you be all right here, Robin? I could easily stay with you.

PHOENIX: ::smiling as she watched the feed enter the wall panel.:: I will be fine, Counselor. You go now, enjoy the banquet. We will talk later.

VENTU: All right.

:: Aresee bowed herself out of the room, only turning her back when the door swished behind her. ::

Lieutenant Aresee Ventu
U.S.S. Victory


Captain Robin Phoenix
Commanding Officer
U.S.S Victory