((Starbase 118 - Counselor Yael’s Office))
Ashley’s office wasn’t uncomfortable. The way he had arranged the furniture was more of an intimate nature, like people sitting in armchairs and just fellowshipping with one another. Alora could certainly see the benefit in that - it was more relaxing. Less formal. Less intimidating. It was her third session with the man since she’d started seeing him, and the first since she’d managed to send him to Sickbay. So, after arriving and settling into her seat, she crossed one leg over the other, leaned forward, and looked at him squarely.
DeVeau: I’m glad you’re not dead.
Yael: Ah. ::glancing over at her as he ordered her chocolate milk:: Thank you?
They had definitely had a bit of a downturn, but he was all healed up from his injury from their holodeck session. It just ached if he breathed extremely deeply, but nothing to speak of.
DeVeau: Well, you know. It’s not every day I send a counselor to Sickbay.
Alora was beginning to wonder if Sal would kick her off Ops for breaking his counselors. First, Karen, then Ruwon, now Ashley. Only with Ashley, it hadn’t been figuratively, it had been literal.
Yael: It was really nothing. Bailey patched me *right* up.
He had said that as if it hadn’t been a major surgery to withdraw the rib from his lung. They were there for Alora though, not for him.
DeVeau: How are you feeling?
Yael: Quite good. In fact, I recently went horse riding. Have never been before.
DeVeau: Oh really? That sounds like fun! Did you enjoy it?
It had been a really long time since Alora had gone, and she’d never done enough to really consider herself particularly skilled at it. However, she adored horses, along with every other animal ever created, so... Yael: It was alternatively fun and also terrifying. ::he smiled at her:: The animals are larger than you expect, and feel even larger when you’re atop them.
DeVeau: Yes, about twice as tall.
And they were about as high up as Alora was willing to go. Well, no, there had actually been /some/ trees she had climbed, but only to the lowest branches, and only because those branches weren’t more than eight feet or so off the ground - if that. That was about all she was going to do. Higher? Nope. No way. Not a chance.
Yael: Admittedly, there’s some trouble walking after… ::a new rider on a horse would do that to the legs, but he refocused:: But, we’re not here to talk about me. ::he tried to redirect her:: I’d like to know how *you’re* doing.
DeVeau: I’m doing well. No dramatics at work, I get time to myself, I’m sleeping well.
Or at least she’d slept well the night before. That wasn’t always the case. The nightmares didn’t come every night, but they came often enough. Alora was just glad she could tell the truth and not pretend it was okay.
DeVeau: So today is good.
And even better once Ashley handed her that chocolate milk. Which one was it that time? Alora took a sip. Oh! Number one! Yes, that was definitely a good one a bit creamier than the others, and on her list of top ten.
Yael: So today, I’d like for you to be a little more honest with me. As well as you can be.
Alora canted her head to the side, an eyebrow arching upward.
DeVeau: What makes you think I’m not?
Yael: Perhaps it’s not the best way to phrase it… it isn’t a matter of not being honest. It’s a matter of holding back. Which you do a *lot* of.
He paired his commentary with that calm smile.
Alora took another sip of her milk and leveled her gaze at the violet-eyed man.
DeVeau: What am I holding back?
Yael: ::laughing lightly:: How would I know the answer to that?
DeVeau: I don’t know. Can you give me an example?
Yael: For example then. How are you sleeping? ::pausing, eyebrow rising:: It’s a simple question with a complicated answer.
DeVeau: I’m sleeping well. Most recently she had been, anyway. It all depended on the day.
DeVeau: There are some nights that are better than others, especially if I, say, get distracted and stay up too late, but we all have times like that. I’m sure you do, hm?
Ashley gave her a pensive look, the pleasant mask dropping for a fraction of a moment before it was replaced again. She had apparently hit a nerve somehow, but he repressed it. It was long enough, however, for Alora to catch it, though she was far well versed in not letting her own emotions show - sometimes.
Yael: That’s all well and good, but if you want to *address* it, you can talk to me about the not-so-better nights. There are multitudes of methods we could try to help stabilize your sleep quality. Even something simple could lead to a better quality of life. Which is why you’re here with me now.
DeVeau: Why do you think my sleep schedule needs stabilizing?
Yael: It’s not about just staying up late and missing curfews or alarms. ::reorienting, he wasn’t sure if he was getting his point across:: I’m just trying to say, I’m a *tool* for you to use. If you don’t take it seriously, it’s a waste of time for you.
Alora paused, head tilting to the other side and another sip of milk was taken before she continued the conversation.
DeVeau: What sort of tools?
Yael: Well, like the orb.
He refrained from saying “the glitter orb of doom.” Though he thought about it.
Yael: You do amazing work with it, as if it’s only a *toy.* But you were playing with it, and with me.
It was a toy. What he wanted to do had been so juvenile and so easy - at least the first time . The second time had just sucked, and Alora wasn’t so keen to repeat it.
He eyed her seriously now.
Yael: If you just play games, I can’t help you take the steps you need to advance.
DeVeau: The question is, Ashley, advance from what, to what? What are your goals here? I’m not quite sure why you think I need to advance.
Yael: It isn't a matter of having a set goal. It’s like… evolution. There isn’t an end goal in mind, it’s about taking the next great steps in your evolution.
He shook his head negatively, then finally sat across from her with his coffee.
Yael: Perhaps I’m pushing too hard. I’m making you uncomfortable.
He wanted to ask if the orb training had been a total mistake, but at least it had communicated some things to him.
DeVeau: How have you evolved?
Alora asked softly. Her eyes dropped down to the braces upon his hands, braces she had noticed from the day they had met, but she hadn’t said a word about them before. Even if he hadn’t said anything, she could tell he was uncomfortable about them. DeVeau: What sort of tools do you use?
He looked down into his coffee for a long moment.
Yael: That.... would be a long conversation. ::pausing:: But I know it doesn’t happen if people don’t push you.
DeVeau: We have most of our hour left. So we’ve both got some time. Maybe it would help me see the benefits.
Alora leaned back in her chair, shifting a bit, as if to settle into a more comfortable position. A smile played on her lips, but there was no mockery, not even of amusement. More of an invitation, a willingness to listen for once rather than have a battle of wits.
His eyebrows furrowed in thought, and he wondered if he should. Was she deflecting? Or was it an honest admission for guidance? It was hard to tell.
Yael: I… this… this is *your* time… ::as he was so prone to saying::....
DeVeau: It’s good to hear about the experience of others. Good advice often comes from it. What’s helped you in the past?
A quick thought back to his own experiences, and he wasn’t sure they would be helpful to her. For all the work he did, all the effort he put out to help his crewmates, he wasn’t sure if *any* of it had worked on him. Cumulatively, probably? But to put a finger on something and say “this cured me of my PTSD and made me functional again,” was too much.
And that would mean exposing things he’d not exposed to anyone on this crew… things he preferred to remain secret.
If they *knew* how dysfunctional he’d been, how could they trust him to help them?
Perhaps he could give her just enough, though? Without burying himself in the process.
Yael: I went through this process myself. We all go through it, to some extent. There was no single thing that “cured” me, in the end. I realize it’s more complicated than just the application of a technique.
DeVeau: How so?
The Denobulan glanced down at his own hands. Paused again. It wasn’t something he liked talking about, though he’d had more practice of late… thanks to Anthony and Kherys. He was *almost* getting used to people not dismissing him as completely breakable.
Ensign Ashley Yael
Starbase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops