(( Sickbay, USS Triumphant ))
His belly full of steak and his mouth full of Industrial-grade Chemical Burn thanks to the spiced potatoes, Serren Tan slipped back to sickbay. He didn’t want to make a big fuss, but it was important to check in every now and then. Plus, there was the matter of meeting everyone, an important part of any new posting.
He spotted Doctor Loxley out of the crowd, and waited until the guy was free, shuffling himself up when there was an opportunity.
Tan: Hey, doc’. Got a moment?
Lox looked around and then up into the face of a young Trill.
Loxley: I’ve got plenty of them, Ensign, what can I do for you?
Tan hopped up onto a biobed, grinning cheekily.
Tan: As long as you don’t have anyone who actually needs your care, I guess now would be a good time to properly introduce myself. ::he stuck out a hand:: Ensign Serren Tan, I’m with Sec-Tac. I’m the guy with the bitten butt.
Loxley: Ah, yes. ::Loxley tried not to grin. But mostly failed:: Out of all the stories of what went on down on the asteroid, that’s the one I’ve heard repeated the most for some reason.
The hybrid gave Tan’s hand a shake. It was cool to the touch, and the doctor part of him remembered Trill were remarkable for their cold hands. Or was that just joined Trill? He’d have to look it up.
Loxley: Good to meet you, Mr Tan. Doctor Loxley, but I guess you already knew that?
Tan just smiled.
Tan: Yeah, I know. I guess I just wanted to check in, make sure everything is okay with you. You were hurt too, you know, and one thing I know from experience is that the mechanic’s car is in the worst shape of them all.
Lox quirked one eyebrow. (Despite his very human upbringing on Earth, there were some things that were hardwired into the Vulcan part of his DNA - and raised eyebrows was definitely one of them).
Loxley: I appreciate that. But it was nothing too serious. But you’re right about medical staff, we probably should take better care of ourselves. ::his thoughts went briefly to Cait, still recovering from her infection, and gave a sad smile before focussing on Serren:: Glad to see you up and about, though. An extinct venom couldn’t have been fun.
Tan: Well... the last couple of hosts I had were in and out of sickbay like it was a cool party they were pretending they were invited to, so I’m going to be seeing a lot of you I think, out of an overabundance of cautious. I guess I just think it’s good to get a start on any health-related issues before they get too bad, because it’s much easier to treat early than later.
Loxley: “Prevention is better than a cure”, they say on Earth. Sounds like your current host has learned from the past. Or maybe your symbiont has?
Tan: Hah, definitely the symbiont.
Lox threw a quick glance around sickbay. The place was much calmer since yesterday. Lox had turned up as he felt he should help out, and the CMO of the Triumphant had kindly let him hang around. Although there was very little that needed doing as it turned out.
Loxley: You’re new to the Gorkon I take it? Hell of a first experience. I heard you had to deal with both our FO and the Admiral?
Tan: A past host served on the Gorkon, but yes. That day was my first day. Wish I had a phaser.
Loxley: I’m sure you’ve already learned that Admiral Reynolds is not the sort to submit to a security detail.
Tan blew out a playful whistle.
Tan: The Admiral knew Alleran Tan way, way back on the Garuda, she can take care of herself for the most part. Dinosaurs are... challenging for the best of us though. Next time I might have to argue this particular point.
Loxley: Oh really? So you know what to expect already. ::he chuckled:: Were all your previous hosts in Starfleet?
Tan: Oh, I wish. My first host was a scientist, and while she did live on a starship for a while, it was looking for the USS Ackerman, a ship captained by David Whale, that was lost. She was bought in as a consultant and hated being in space. The ship, of course, was not found until... much later.
The details of the Ackerman were a story far, far too long to tell in sickbay.
Loxley: And you still had to sit through basic training? Was that as dull as I imagine if you already knew it all?
Serren flashed a wry smile.
Tan: A joining is a merging of minds, it’s true, but there’s just no substitute for learning it yourself. Trill culture heavily discourages reassociation... so the notion of having not one, not two, but three hosts in Starfleet is absolutely walking on thin ice with the Symbiosis Committee, but I was already in the academy when I was joined. They could have not offered it to me but they did. As far as I’m concerned, all my mistakes are on them. Still, I dare say this is my last shot.
Lox frowned. It was hard to discern when his companion was referring to himself as Serren or as Tan. But, of course, they were also the same person as well as being separate. Trill pronouns were complicated.
Loxley: Last shot to be joined you mean? Is it that bad?
Tan: Eh, I don’t mind. As much as can be reliably said... I’d like to think I’m here for the long haul. If I get a new host by the time I’m eighty, I think I’ll be rightfully annoyed. One Purple Heart is enough for me.
Loxley: Enough for everyone, I imagine. Plus less Purple Hearts means less work for us good medical staff.
Tan: Such an inconvenience. ::he grinned:: Had many Trill patients before?
Loxley ran a hand through his ginger hair as he considered.
Loxley: Actually, no, not that many. There’s few on the Gorkon, so I’ve treated one or two, both joined and unjoined. There’s Commander Sevo of course, and another Ensign in Security. ::he gave a little shrug:: Joined physiology is complex enough to warrant an entire semester at Starfleet Medical.
There was another Trill Ensign in Security? Well, it would be interesting to meet his spotty doppleganger. Although they probably didn’t have much more in common than a species and a profession, it would still be fascinating to meet them. It had been quite some time since he spoke to other Trill beside Sevo.
Tan: Oh, I bet. And trust me, we don’t even have it figured out ourselves, yet. There’s a reason we all have such a reputation for secrecy. ::he chortled:: The whole thing is a mystery to me. I mean, how does anyone even begin to figure out what’s going on in people’s heads? Or bodies, for that matter...
Loxley: Mostly they just gave us a scalpel and let us poke around by ourselves. You know, on the job training. ::his green eyes twinkled:: Just something to bear in mind next time you’re thinking of getting yourself injured.
He gave a playful salute.
Tan: I’ll try not to make a habit out of it.
Loxley: I imagine they will put us on some R&R after everything that happened. Honestly, though, I think I’d rather keep busy at the moment. I don’t think my mind is quite ready to process almost getting eat…
Loxley stopped and swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry, and blinked.
Much of the levity drained out of him, and his back straightened at the sudden shift in tone.
Tan: To be honest, there’s a lot I haven’t dealt with, with regard to what happened on the surface.
He sensed that the man wanted to talk, and was more than happy to let him.
Loxley: It’s strange, saying it out loud it feels… ::he stopped again and sighed, shaking his head:: Sorry, all part of the job in Starfleet, I guess. But that’s why we have counsellors.
Tan: I suppose it is.
Serren smiled gently.
Tan: I know that their job is to help you, but sometimes an informal chat can be good, too. And my ears are always open. I mean, I... it was definitely a new experience for me as well.
Loxley: I’d like to say it was a new experience for all of us, but one away team were hunted by animals on our last mission, too.
It was a difficult problem and Serren tried his best to navigate it.
Tan: A life in Starfleet is... difficult. I’m an unusual symbiont, I think. It’s rare for joined Trill to have multiple lives in Starfleet. Not unheard of, definitely, but unusual. And now there’s been three of us all in a row. Both of them...
He took a deep breath and then let it out slowly.
Tan: Both of the ones who came before found their careers bathed in blood, either theirs or someone else’s. From Alleran Tan’s first day on duty under Jhen Thelev, to Safine’s last under Admiral Reynolds, both of them found violence a significant part of their lives. And now, it seems, I have as well. Seems like it’s part of the job.
Loxley: So it would appear. ::he gave a fatalistic shrug:: I’d been imagining more medical research, less hands-on holding limbs together.
Or (Lox thought back to the false-yet-so-real memories of the Skarbek) amputating them.
Tan: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to get a bit... heavy. ::he grinned cheekily:: Remember that time I got bitten on the butt? It’s kinda funny now, looking back. Days and light years removed from the events.
Loxley: I do believe these things are supposed to get more amusing with time and distance. Which means that once we’re all back on the Gorkon, it’s going to be downright hilarious. ::he did his best to keep a Vulcan-ish stoic expression:: You might find yourself the butt of many jokes, I’m sure.
Oh yeah. By this point he’d heard them all, and yet, every time it managed to bring a stupid grin to his face.
Tan: When you make an ass of yourself, that’s a risk you take.
Loxley shared the grin. The brevity was a welcome distraction but he could sense the unease still down inside him and he knew it was something he would have to deal with sooner rather than later. But not right now.
Tan hopped down off the biobed.
Tan: Okay, well, as long as you’re okay and I’m okay, I think I might scoot out of your hair. I know you probably have a bunch of annoying work to do when idiot security staff get themselves bitten, so... I’ll leave you to it.
Loxley: You wouldn’t believe the paperwork it generates.
Lox gave another chuckle. He liked the young Trill Ensign, although ‘young’ was in appearance only. Tan already had several lifetimes of experience.
Loxley: It was good to meet you, Ensign. Hopefully we can enjoy some more chilled out time once we’re back on the Gorkon.
Tan: Lovely meeting you doc. See you around the ship.
Lieutenant (jg) Loxley