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Post 13 - Deja Vu

Posted on Thu Feb 11th, 2021 @ 5:41pm by Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai & Lieutenant Commander Karim

Mission: The Waiting Game
Location: Sickbay, USS Adelphi
Timeline: Shortly after beaming back to the Adelphi

[Bed 4 - Sickbay]
[Shortly after their return from Cr'ystaya]

Emni arranged her small set of tools next to biobed 4 for the third time. The tools, like her mind, felt permanently out of sync--like there was something just out of reach, intangible, that might make everything feel right again. The biobed display flickered lightly, a reminder that they were not returning home in one piece, but limping home in a barely space-worthy ship. Annoyed, she tapped the display with a finger. The flickering stopped.

She turned and paced the length of sickbay again, closing her eyes and letting her steps guide her through the paces--layout memorized and muscle memory fully in control. It felt like a form of meditation and it allowed her to clear her mind. Cautiously she reached out, searching for a particular emotional signature. Her range may not have far exceeded the limits of sickbay, but if the sought after signature was moving towards her then she felt she might let out a breath of relief.

She was expecting Karim, and he was already ten minutes late. Karim was never late.

Three more minutes passed before the doors to the Adelphi's sickbay finally parted and the ship's counsellor, garbed in shaggy borrowed alien's clothing and still bearing the physical stresses of the events that took place planetside, stepped purposefully in, long strides bringing him beside Emni.

He did not make eye contact and quickly set himself onto the biobed in an upright sitting position. A number of scuffs and marks lined the remarkable prostheses that adorned his usually-Vulcanoid appearance. The Vidiians had not torn away the faux appearance or restored any of his usual physical features, but the man had clearly experienced some physical torment during his time with the vivisectors.

"Please proceed, Doctor," he stated flatly, looking straight ahead.

Emni frowned, examining the Vulcan first visually -- noting the marks and abrasions that suggested more than a little bit of rough handling. She reached out a hand, touching one of the prosthetics that appeared to have a burn mark absently before realizing that Karim was bound to find that gesture inappropriate.

As soon as the physician's finger brushed across Karim's face, he recoiled sharply, twisting his body away whilst he still remained seated on the biobed. His expression was unchanging, but his eyes finally fixated on Emni, dark and tired. They searched her own for a moment, and it was almost as though a different being other than Karim was regarding her, but he quickly regained his composure and returned to his previous position, eye contact broken.

He made no comment on his sudden reaction.

"What did they do to you?" she breathed, the question not meant to be answered despite the intense sadness she felt at its vocalization.

As she opened her tricorder to evaluate him further she slowly dropped her emotional guard. These hours since returning to the Adelphi had required a great deal more precise management of that sense and she was finding it exhausting, though necessary, to be cautious what she let in. Still, not using her empathic sense with a patient felt like cutting off a vital tool and so, she took in the anxiety, fear, pain, and grief in small doses, sipping at the emotions the way you might a very hot beverage that you were hoping would cool down soon.

Karim's mind resembled a brick wall. It was solid in many places the barrier between himself and Emni's sense soaring between them in all directions. She resisted the urge to close her eyes and focus looking instead to her tricorder, but it didn't take long for emotions to begin to trickle out. Parts of the wall were crumbling in places, emotional mortar chipping away as though it had undergone a hurricane's worth of battering. And through those small breaks in his defence let out a steady stream of uncertain confusion.

The Romulan woman sighed, retreating from the wall with that little bit of knowledge. Without a doubt, something was not right.

"Less than what was done to Isan or Sora'a," Karim replied. "Do you believe this will take long?" He then queried, an iota of sternness entering his voice, as he continued his vigilant glare at the far wall. "If you are otherwise disposed or your services required elsewhere, I am certain the hologram can perform the procedure efficiently."

Emni caught the Vulcan's gaze again, refusing to break eye contact as she spoke. "That's hardly a fair or even valid comparison, Counselor. Believe me when I say that the loss of Isan and Sora'a was senseless, but it in no way changes that your own experience was clearly harrowing. What they did to you is, at a minimum, medically relevant."

Emni's words came out sharper than she intended, scolding almost.

"I'm sorry," she said breaking eye contact then and moving to the tray of tools. "None of us our ourselves right now."

"We are always ourselves," he replied, no inward response detectable regarding the near-scold. "But physically, not so much, which is the purpose of this surgery, after all. We are all keen to recuperate in our own ways, I am sure."

She paused over the tools, turned away from Karim for a moment and using the reprieve to close her eyes and let out a slow breath. It was easy for her to spend her focus on being Doctor t'Nai rather than to address Emni who was imprisoned. And there was certainly no way she could impart that to Karim in his current state.

Pulling the calm bedside manner of Doctor t'Nai on like a comforting blanket she turned back to the Vulcan. "This should take about 10 minutes. Removing and restoring is always an easier process."

Not thinking about the reaction she had received with her unanticipated touch she moved toward the Vulcan's right ear, ready to start the rebuild of its familiar point.

As the surgical piece drew close to the side of Karim's head, there was an extreme surge of raw and panicked emotion that crashed over Emni, cascading out from within the surly Vulcan, the metaphorical brick wall crumbling in a cataclysmic instant. Before the physician had any opportunity to respond to this terrible and uncontrolled outpouring, Karim's hand shot up and grasped Emni's forearm in a vice-like grip, his fingers digging tightly into her arm through her sleeve.

His eyes had turned away from the wall again, now fixated purely on the tool held at the end of the limb he had seized. Karim was breathing heavily through his nose as he glared at the surgical equipment, his chest heaving as more waves of incensed panic flooded Emni from her patient, although more of that fear seemed to be shifting to a sort-of rage, palpable and intense to the empath he was now physically connected to.

Emni stilled immediately, reacting in the way one might react when approaching a cornered animal so as not to startle it. Mental defences slammed into place stemming the tide of panic so she could think, but not sufficient to keep the tidal wave of anger and fear that emanated from the Vulcan from setting her teeth on edge.

"Commander," she said firmly, eyes turned to catch Karim's gaze.

When that didn't immediately work she tried again, gentler this time.

"Karim," her tone was soft, comforting, all of the calm she could muster poured into his name. "It's me. It's Emni."

With that, Karim's eyes finally deviated from the instrument to Emni, although they remained wide, the pupils broad, giving his eyes unsettling dark appearance.

"Yes," he said quietly after a few moments longer, finally releasing the doctor's arm. "We are always ourselves," he repeated.

It was unclear if Karim was speaking to Emni or merely thinking aloud when he made the comment, especially as he turned his eyes downwards, examining the hand that now exhibited the very mildest of trembling. He clasped it with his other hand, halting the involuntary reaction.

"Would you please work quickly, Doctor," he added, although there was an undeniable strain to his voice, something which Emni had not heard before from the man. He made no comment on his previous action, as if it had not even happened. A weak attempt at reconstructing the mental barriers was being made, but fear and shame were quickly becoming bedfellows with the uncapped rage. "Captain Kodak requires my report on the away mission, and I am quite uncomfortable looking like... this."

And with that final word, there was even a hint of malice.

Emni nodded slowly debating for the barest of a moment whether to place her own hand over Karim's clasped ones. To say that seeing the usually cantankerous counsellor in this state was unsettling would have been an understatement.

"Of course," she breathed in reply to Karim's request.

Moving as quickly as safe practice would allow she reformed the shape of one ear, starting up a light banter as she did.

"Do you think Starfleet will give us a bit of shore leave when we're back to the other side of the Barzan?" She asked, the question in its lightness feeling dissonant against the clouds of shame, denial, and frustration emanating off of the Vulcan now that his emotional defences had crumbled. It was an unusual feeling to experience Karim's emotional state so plainly when usually it was kept under heavy lock and key.

"Doctor, please," Karim said in a surprisingly insistent tone as soon as Emni finished her last word, annoyance plain. "You would work more efficiently if you did not waste time with... idle chatter."

Emni had felt the anxiety spoke that went along with her question, do rather than respond to Karim's insistence she lapsed into quiet work. Moving promptly to his other ear, then hands, and finally moving to work on the ridged bridge of the Vulcan's nose--the most noticeable part of his Bajoran heritage.

Pausing her work she moved directly to Karim's line of sight, determined not to startle him.

"I am going to restore your nose now," she explained holding eye contact with the struggling man in front of her. "It may be easier if you close your eyes, but if not, just keep your eyes on my face."

Karim's breathing grew more laboured again for a moment. After a few awkward seconds where he glared back at Emni, with a look that could almost be said to be akin to nervousness, he gave three rapid and disjointed nods. He took a sharp intake of breath and closed his eyes, allowing Emni to move towards his nose.

As she began to work on the counsellor's face, he recoiled quickly in two quick and separate motions, a few almost inaudible strained noises coming from his throat as he did, but Karim ultimately brought his face back to the previous position and let Emni conclude her work, which she did ably and quickly.

When it was done, Karim did not wait for any verbal cue from Emni and he rose up quickly from the bed, actually knocking his shoulder into Emni, as well as a nearby tray unit covered in instruments, as he did so, causing them to scatter to the floor. He showed no sign of noticing and began striding quickly to leave the sickbay, his hands finding their way to his restored face and his fingers massaging deeply into his temples.

Emni had been nearly as startled by Karim's sudden rush from the biobed as she had been by the continued torrent of complicated emotional struggle that was bombarding her empathic defences. Karim with unbridled emotions was a very new and different experience--one for which she had not prepared.

She recovered quickly, though, and called out to the man before the sickbay doors were able to part to allow him to exit.

"Commander," she said with the gentle firmness of a parent responding to a frightened child who was lashing out at anything around him. "We're not finished here. Everyone who was on the surface has to undergo an evaluation for injuries and longer-term effects from the Vidiians."

The surge of emotion--panic and anger twined around each other in a wave--was palpable as she spoke. She took a deep breath letting it out through her teeth in a low hiss as if pushing the emotions away with her own breath. "Karim," she said her voice soft as she took a step towards him, "please sit back down."

Karim paused at the door, but did not turn around. "That won't be immediately necessary, Doctor," he stated, voice slightly strained, even if a semblance of the counsellor's usual taciturn parlance remained. "I require rest and solitude. Your hologram will be more than sufficient when I return at a later time."

"That was not a request, counsellor," Emni responded, falling heavily back on the formatlity on her position. "I'd prefer it not be an order."

She let that hang aware of that the tidal wave of emotions the man felt was continuing to build.

Karim halted and spun so quickly in one motion, Emni had little time to react to the sudden physical shift in the counsellor, let alone the crescendoing maelstrom of emotions that were cascading out from the part-Vulcan man. His face had contorted into one of absolute rage. Whilst it had been restored, the expression worn by Karim was so alien to his usual appearance, it was as though he were still another man.

“Do not threaten me, Emni!” He seethed, voice raised to a shout and spittle flying from his mouth as he stalked menacingly towards the other Vulcanoid, a finger pointed aggressively towards her face. He glanced her up and down as he drew closer, an embodiment of rage and, beneath that, disgust - the layer of embarrassment that had tinged him just moments ago had been consumed by it.

“I do not care to hear your concerns about my welfare, nor do I care for your infantile, sickeningly human morality regarding your duties as a physician!” Karim kicked the same tray unit he had staggered into moments before, although his posture was now rigid and defiant, rather than pained or confused. “My well-being is my own – not yours, nor anyone else’s. I will determine what I need, and when I need it, unbound by the ethical considerations of your limited experiences and Starfleet-endorsed protocol!”

Karim huffed as he came within an arm’s reach of Emni and he sneered an unpleasant smile. “If I wanted the insight of a mindless Romulan ‘doctor’, I would have asked the hologram’s opinion.” His eyes, reddened and filled with ire, looked the physician up and down. He placed a forefinger onto Emni’s forehead. Despite his hostility, it was done surprisingly gently. “Don’t deign to understand my plight, merely because you inherited inferior talents for stealing stray emotions you could not hope to comprehend… and I won’t offend you by pretending I hold any value for your opinion.”

Emni did not move, Karim's finger still pressed lightly into her forehead. She met the anger in his eyes head-on, refusing to break eye contact with the man despite his threatening posture. The Vulcan had no way to fully understand how his lack of emotional control was impacting her and she determinedly schooled her features so as not to let him see. Despite her best efforts the tidal wave of Karim's rage had crashed up against her defenses spilling over the top and leaving the remnants of seething emotions pooling behind the wall she had erected to keep him out. Even with her best efforts to remain calm in place, she balled her fists and her body quivered, a dim mirror of Karim's own emotional state.

Finally able to school her voice she spoke, the voice of a doctor and not a friend fully in place. "Then I am going to have to relieve you of duty, Commander," she said flatly, then, taking a single step backwards she spoke to the space around them. "Computer, Lieutenant Commander Karim is relieved of duty at the order of the Chief Medical Officer, Emni t'Nai. Please add this note to Lieutenant Commander Karim's file and deliver notification to Captain Kodak."

The disembodied voice of the computer responded with only. "Confirmed."

Karim's sneer dropped and he removed his finger from the doctor's head, although he brought his face closer to Emni's. A cold silence fell between them, punctuated only by the cyclone of fury emnating invisibly from the compromised Vulcan, and it was unclear what the man would do next.

Finally, he whispered a single, sardonic word. "Pathetic."

And with that, Karim marched from the sickbay, a dangerous purpose to his striding gait as he finally left the room and Emni behind.

The doors to Sickbay snicked shut behind the retreating counsellor, but it was another moment before the mass of emotion that accompanied him left the edge of Emni's empathic range. When it did, a few seconds later, she drooped, feeling as though she had run a marathon in a single moment. Her heart still thumped loudly and far too rapidly in her chest, an unavoidable reaction to Karim's threatening posture even as she was fairly confident he wouldn't harm her. Sickbay was, blessedly, devoid of people and so she made her way quickly into her offfice where she collapsed into her chair.

With Karim's emotional maelstrom removed her own emotions rushed in to fill the space--sadness and deep concern mingling with guilty relief at his departure. Exhaustion overtook her then, and she slowly laid her head on her arms on the desk, closing her eyes and focusing on breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth in a bid to slow her speeding heart.

When, finally, she felt as though she had herself Kodak. "Captain, Lieutenant Commander Karim has just left Sickbay," she began, taking a deep breath. "I know there is much going on right now, but I need a moment of your time with some urgency and some privacy. Please let me know when it would be appropriate to come by."

Tapping the console again to send the message she sighed and raised a hand to rub her forehead where Karim's finger had come to rest.

=/\= A mission post by =/\=

Lieutenant Commander Karim

Lieutenant Emni t'Nai
Chief Medical Officer


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