"Mysterious Times"
[Previous Post: "Coming to Terms"]

"Both the man of science and the man of action live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it."
-J. Robert Oppenheimer

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section C, Level 2, Counselling Department
Stardate: 63075.1410

Ensign Thomas walked into the room, which was well appointed but lacking in personal items. There were a couple of seating groupings available, and he chose the closest one next to the door, which consisted of two chairs and a low slung acrylic table between them. Dalziel mirrored his actions and took the chair across from him. "Would you like something to drink? Coffee? Water? Lemonade?"

"No, that's okay." The COO looked at the Counsellor. Eve looked entirely in her element, despite working out of an unfamiliar office.

"Did something happen to cause you to seek an appointment?" she asked. "Or, should I just ask 'what' happened?"

Elliot cleared his throat, studying the subtle checked pattern in the carpeting. "You're being very direct."

The corners of Eve's mouth turned gently upward in amusement. "It's my nature. You should know that," she offered.

"Yeah I suppose..." ET said, rubbing the back of his neck.

Eve's gray eyes widened in concern. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. We can even do this another time-"

"No, Counsellor. I need to take care of this now... before it gets out of hand." After a moment of awkward silence, Elliot began to explain. "I was assisting the Chief on the repairs to the ANUBIS. Everything was going well, as well as could be expected given the state the ship is in right now. While rewiring some of the circuitry, something Fairborn said just struck me as funny and I couldn't stop laughing for several minutes. He suggested I discuss it with you."

"Because you were laughing?" Eve tried to suppress her puzzlement.

"Lack of self control is not the behavior of a Starfleet Officer," Ensign Thomas said with an apologetic tone.

The ebony haired woman looked at the Operations Officer compassionately, her lips drawing into a thin line. "That may be true, but you are not only an officer... you are also a human being. A father. Tell me, when was the last time you laughed before today?" Eve asked somberly.

Elliott thought for a moment. "Not for a very long time."

"For nearly a year and a half, there hasn't been a lot for any of us to smile about. I consider your reaction very healthy, if a bit overboard. Many races need to allow themselves to experience and express emotions as a part of the healing process. But not everyone feels the same," Ensign Dalziel added, subconsciously referring to the stoic Oltharian. The truth was, she worried about Elan more than the man sitting across from her now. But she also knew as easy as it was to speak to Elliot, she might never have the chance to delve into the gentle giant's mind. It simply wasn't his way.

Susan M Ledbetter
Ensign Eve Dalziel