"Temporal Insanity Part XIII: The Mind Is A Dangerous Thing"
1 Week After...
Location: Sickbay – Deck 7 – USS Charon
As soon as he had been notified that Lieutenant Command Calhoun was able to talk, Counsellor Jennings had suspended all of his morning sessions and immediately left for sickbay. After what Calhoun had endured on the planet's surface Paul was fairly certain no one elicited his attention more.
Quentin was sitting up in the main bio-bed in medical, sipping at a glass of whiskey that he had fought to get and dosed up on more painkillers than he could name. He looked up as the Counsellor entered and put the glass down... talking was the last thing he wanted to do so hoped he wasn't there to see him.
The Chief Engineer was one of the people that Jennings had yet to really meet with. As such he decided a more professional approach might be more welcome (or at least less resisted). So, as Paul neared the bio bed he offered a half-smile and greeted him, "How are you feeling, Commander?"
"I have a splitting headache, immense pain in my abdomen and they wont give me a real drink" Quentin said looking to the glass of synthonal. "Apart from that I'm fine... yourself?" he asked trying to skirt around the issue.
"All things considered, I find myself quite well, thank you," the Counsellor said with a nod. He was, of course, familiar with the Doctor's prognosis, but he wanted to know exactly how Calhoun was taking it. "How does it look? Will they be letting you out any time soon?"
"Hopefully in the next day or two" Quentin said still not mentioning the poisoning. "They just want to make sure I've healed up" he added trying to convince himself all was ok.
Continuing to nod, Paul pushed on, "You know, people have been talking quite a bit about you, Commander."
"All good I hope?" Quentin said trying to force a smile but as the pain kicked in it turned to a grimace. Shifting uncomfortably he reached for the painkillers and threw several of them down his throat.
The counsellor allowed a smile as he replied, though he felt concern and pity for the man. "Hailing you as something of a hero, actually."
Quentin scoffed "I'm no hero, I just did my job" he said shaking his head hoping this was just counsellor speak to make him feel better. He looked up at the mans eyes and stared for a moment. "The doctor told you didn't she?" he asked quietly.
His smile fading more than a little, the Counsellor nodded again, "Yes, Commander. She did."
"It's funny how doctors have a way of completely ignoring what you request of them isn't it?" he asked rhetorically. "So I guess she also asked you to come talk to me?" Quentin said defensively.
"No, that was my decision," Jennings replied as he moved to lean back against an adjacent bed. "And I'm sure you're probably unaware, but I am a fully qualified medical officer. In fact I spent most of my career as one. They have a responsibility to do what's in your best interest."
"I guess so... so tell me doc... how am I supposed to feel knowing that in twenty years ill most likely be dead and until that point I'm gunna suffer?" he said almost feeling angry about the situation he was now in. He scoffed again... "Hero? try idiot, try cripple" Quentin added.
"Facing one's own mortality is never an easy issue, Commander," replied Paul, crossing his arms across his chest. He himself had faced his own on a number of occasions. "And I know that it offers little consolation, but you have to focus on what you've done in your life. Think of the lives you've saved by doing what you did, Commander. For that alone you deserve the highest accolades."
"I did what any officer would have done, thought of an idea and ran with it, despite the lasting effects on myself... it was nothing special... but now I'm going to suffer for it" he said wondering if he wanted to say 'it's not fair'. "I know the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... but... I can't help but ask 'why me?' Quentin said looking up at the Counsellor.
The Counsellor responded by shaking his head, "I'm not a Vulcan, Commander. I'm human, and we don't often agree with that assessment. And what you did to save those people goes beyond anything that can be expected from any officer."
Quentin shook his head before looking back at the man opposite him. "I think any one member of this crew would have done the same to save those people... and since reading Ambassador Spock's writings it's a phrase which resonates with me. I guess not being human means I can see things from several perspectives... I guess I blame myself for not realising the drug would be destroyed in the weather conditions" he said.
"If you had would you have made a different choice?" Paul asked simply.
"I would have made sure I took the drug before embarking on putting the plan into action" he stated simply. Quentin shook his head. "But then there would have been no time for me to leave the planet, come back take the drug and return in the short space of time we had..." Quentin realised.
The counsellor nodded. He himself had no real belief in fate (deity-based or otherwise); however, he did believe in the balancing powers of the universe. "So you understand that there was no other course of action but the one you took in order to save those lives."
"I guess if I look past my own sense of pity then yes... there was no other course of action to take" he said slowly realising what had happened wasn't poor choice, but necessity.
"Then you're one step closer to understanding why they're calling you a hero, Commander," replied Paul with a slow nod. "Because when the options ran out, you did what you had to do despite the risks involved."
"Please..." Quentin started. "Please stop calling me a hero" he said slowly. "I maintain I did what every other officer would have done... but maybe I'll start to realise that it wasn't my fault" he said.
Jennings nodded again, "I believe that is an acceptable compromise, Commander."
"I guess it is" he said slowly looking away from the Counsellor. "Do conditions like this stop you living your life?" he asked slowly.
"Why should it?" the counsellor asked. "I believe you should always live life as best you can, enjoying ever moment you're given in it."
"But the constant pain... I know the painkillers will ease it... but I expect the Commodore won't want me on away missions" Quentin said.
"Away teams aren't the only reason to live," though Jennings knew the words were half empty. "There's an entire starship that needs caring for. And there's always the Academy and research institutions."
"Well I don't plan on giving up my active career anytime soon Commander... I don't particularly want the news of my condition spread around either. I don't want sympathy just to carry on as normal" Quentin explained.
Moving his hands from his chest, Paul lowered them to the top of the bio bed on either side of him, "Typically a situation like yours is kept on a need-to-know basis. The medical staff, myself, and the command team, of course."
Quentin nodded "I would appreciate that" he said after a moments pause. The pain had died down a little as the painkillers kicked in and he let out a sigh. "Starfleet eh? Who'd pick it" he said trying to lighten the mood.
The counsellor allowed another smile and a light chuckle, "Well, I can only hope other men and women who will put their own lives at stake for those of others."
"That's just standard procedure in these times" he said remembering the struggle of the recent wars. "Still hopefully our next assignment wont be so taxing on the body" Quentin added as he tossed another couple of pills into his mouth and swallowed.
"One can only hope," replied Jennings, still having not been notified of the Commodores unexpected 'departure' from the vessel. "This crew could use some down time."
"Well I've heard a few of the medical staff have been enjoying the sights of the planet now it is stable... have you been? Are they happy?" Quentin asked.
"They are quite well from what I've been told," Paul said with a nod. "But no, I haven't had a chance to visit the surface. So much to do up here and not near enough time."
"Always the way... I can hear the warp core alignment is off by 0.2 microns and it's been bugging me since my return... I want to be back in Engineering where i belong and fixing what's broken," he chuckled. "So I agree, too much to do with little time to do it in".
Shaking his head the Counsellor replied, "As much as I'm sure it pains you, you know as well as I do you're gunna sit tight until the Doctor releases you."
"Unfortunately I know... but then I also know the pain isn't going to go so why bother holding me in this pen when I could be doing something useful?" Quentin said irritably.
"As soon as she's satisfied that you're stable and fit, I'm sure she'll let you out," Paul said. He knew how it was to feel useless. Six months on Valcone going through rehabilitation had given him a sharp taste of it. "As soon as you're fit you'll be back in your engineering bay, I'm sure."
"Well I hope so... I'm an engineer, not a doctor and these four sterile walls and the lack of tools and sounds of the ship's heart is enough to drive a man crazy" Quentin said with a chuckle. "Hey doc... thanks... you're not half bad at this shrink stuff" he added.
Lieutenant Commander Quentin Calhoun
Chief Engineering Officer
Commander Paul Jennings