SIM:Shelley: Cosmic Toss

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A Cosmic Toss of the Dice

((USS TIGER – DR. SHELLEY’S QUARTERS))

:: Having showered immediately after returning to her quarters, washing off the sweat and remnants of Orion blood that clung to her skin, Shelley dried her hair and pulled on some more casual clothes. She didn’t particularly like having to wear the uniform, but it was a necessary evil for the path she’d so recently chosen. :: And wasn’t that path just working out so well? Suspended from duty before she’d even had time to fully unpack. Lovely. :: Ordering herself a cup of tea from the replicator, Shelley sat down at her small desk and started to read one of the medical journals she’d brought with her but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to look at. Halfway through the first article, she realised she wasn’t retaining any of it. As much as she would like to have continued being in ‘work mode’ as she put it to counsellor Avandar, the fact was she couldn’t stop thinking about her suspension. Her entire career she hadn’t had so much as a review, but not even a month into her Starfleet career and this happens. Setting aside the journal, she rubbed at her eyes. She was tired, but knew that she’d never get to sleep. :: Shelley looked up, somewhat surprised to hear her door buzz. ::

SHELLEY: Yes?

:: The door slid into its pocket to reveal Ensign Whale, looking much better than she’d last seen him. ::

WHALE: Doctor. Just thought I’d drop by, see how you were doing.

SHELLEY: Ah. So the word is out.

WHALE: I have to keep tabs on this sort of thing. Part of the job. :: pause :: If you… need to talk…

SHELLEY: The counsellor already tried, Mister Whale, but I’m afraid I’m not ready to talk about this yet.

WHALE: Difference is, I’m not a counsellor. Just a friend. :: pause :: And I’m pretty sure Avandar wasn’t offering a thank you gift.

:: Moving his left hand from behind his back with a hopeful smile, he revealed a bottle of Klingon bloodwine. Smiling, Shelley waved him in and grabbed a couple glasses from the shelf. ::

SHELLEY: I definitely think I could use a little bit of that right now.

:: Whale uncorked the wine and poured two glasses, handing one to the doctor and swirling his a little before taking a sniff. It smelled about as bad as he’d expected, but a quick sip proved that it tasted better than he would have expected from the Klingons. He held up his glass in a toast. ::

WHALE: To you.

SHELLEY: Yeah, to me. Here’s to suspension of duty.

:: She took a long drink. ::

WHALE: I was more thinking ‘here’s to you, for saving my life.’ I heard what you did. Dragging me into the shuttle, I mean.

:: Shelley shrugged. It didn’t seem she was in the right mindset to accept any compliments or even acknowledge her efforts. ::

SHELLEY: Then here’s to you, as well, Mister Whale. You shielded me from the explosion – it’s the only reason I was healthy enough to tend to you four.

WHALE: Wrong place, wrong time. Story of my life, Doctor. :: pause :: Look. About Solok…

:: Shelley sighed heavily, but Whale continued. ::

WHALE: He isn’t a bad guy, really, he’s just… Vulcan. You know? They’re very structured. Everything is black and white with them and their logic.

SHELLEY: Are you defending him? Because-

WHALE: No. No, I’m not defending him. Look, can we sit down – I’m still kind of weak.

SHELLEY: Of course.

:: She pulled over an extra chair and the pair sat across from each other at the doctor’s desk, the bottle of wine between them. ::

WHALE: I’m not defending him. You just saved my life, of course I think your suspension is stupid. I’m just saying…

SHELLEY: I did what I felt I had to do. We were cut off from the rest of the ship and had no way of knowing if we’d be able to get Z’Leah to sickbay in time! Any kind of spinal injury has a very narrow window for treatment before the damage worsens or becomes permanent.

WHALE: I didn’t know that. But Doctor Solok does, I’m sure. What I’m saying is that Vulcans… it’s like they lack the imagination to see anything beyond procedure. To see that extremes measures might be necessary in a crisis. Once all the facts are presented, I’m sure everything will be fine.

:: Nodding, Shelley took another sip from her nearly-empty cup. Whale could tell she wasn’t entirely convinced, but figured he shouldn’t push the issue. Solok and Shelley were both adults and could hash things out themselves. ::

WHALE: And if they’re not, I’ll throw him in the brig for you.

:: He was pleased that she laughed outright at that. She seemed like a good person and he generally liked people who saved his life. ::

WHALE: Anyway, let’s change the subject.

SHELLEY: Please.

WHALE: Chief Petty Officer, huh? Like I said before, I thought Starfleet medical grads are automatic Lieutenants?

:: She nodded as she refilled their glasses. ::

SHELLEY: They are. I went the civilian route -- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, class of `73. I just joined Starfleet a couple months ago.

WHALE: Really?

SHELLEY: Yes, it was all part of a grand plan for my husband and I to spend more time together. He’s a commander.

:: Whale frowned. ::

WHALE: You’re married to Thelev?

:: Shelley chuckled. ::

SHELLEY: Ah no. No, my husband is first officer aboard the USS Hormigonera. The plan was for us to serve together, but thanks to an administrative foul-up I was assigned to the Tiger and we couldn’t cut through the red tape in time for me to transfer to the Hormigonera. So he’s off charting the Gamma Quadrant and I’m here, drinking wine and being suspended.

WHALE: At least you’ve got the wine.


((Three glasses of wine later…))

SHELLEY: But there’s still that attitude. Some have it, I mean, that attitude that because my medical degree is from a civilian university rather than Starfleet Medical it’s somehow less valid here on a starship. That’s probably what our CMO thinks.

WHALE: Come on, let’s not get back on that. We were making progress on cheering you up…

SHELLEY: Yeah, well, it’ll take a lot more effort. This, combined with being assigned to the Tiger in the first place? My life has been kinda tough for the last little while.

:: Whale couldn’t help but laugh, drawing an annoyed look from the Doctor. ::

WHALE: Look, Doc, I don’t doubt you’ve had some hard times, but come on. You’re going to play the ‘tough life’ card with ME? Seriously?

:: Immediately grimacing, Shelley rubbed a hand over her face. Too much wine and too much venting of her own problems had led her to completely forget about what Whale had been through over the past several years. ::

SHELLEY: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean… I know how hard it was.

WHALE: Do you?

SHELLEY: Well... no, not really… I just…

WHALE: Not many people can really sympathize with losing your entire life.

:: And just like that, everything he’d been able to push aside – all the feelings of loss, even despair that came every time he thought of his old life – came rushing back. Shelley saw the emotions plainly in his face and wished she’d kept her mouth shut. She forced a smile, strained though it was, and stared at the carpet for several moments before meeting Whale’s gaze. ::

SHELLEY: I’m sorry. :: pause :: I… I was there, David. When they brought you in.

:: Whale frowned. He wasn’t following her train of thought. ::

WHALE: Brought me in…

SHELLEY: To the VH.

:: He sat up straighter as a shock when down his spine. Shelley had been at the Starfleet Veterans Hospital when he and the other survivors had been admitted? ::

SHELLEY: You were slipping in and out of consciousness – I’m not surprised you don’t remember. I spoke to you. I told you-

WHALE: Not to worry. That you would take care of me.

:: He said the words as if in a daze. Truthfully, he was just barely aware of having said them, pulling the words one syllable at a time through the fog of the half-forgotten memories of a half-conscious man. Now, having said them aloud, he could hear the same words being spoken in the soft tones of the Doctor. ::

SHELLEY: Yes. That I would take care of you.

:: And she had. He was here and he was relatively well adjusted, she supposed. The same couldn’t be said for the two other survivors. Vines was never going to leave the hospital, destined to be a fixture in the long-term care ward until the day he died, slipping in and out of lucidity. And poor Thoresson… :: The pair sat in silence for a long time before Whale finally spoke again. ::

WHALE: Thanks for taking care of me.

:: She just nodded, unsure of what else to do. She wasn’t even sure why she’d told him – maybe she thought he needed to know that there was someone who understood even a little bit of what he’d been through. Maybe she just wanted to tell him before he got around to reading it in her file. She knocked back the rest of her wine. ::

SHELLEY: What a depressing pair we are. Weaving the tangled web of our lives.