A Conversation and Breakfast
Season 2: Mission 2: Just Breath
Location: Deep Space Nine--Promenade
Timeline: Before the Elysium is stolen
There was a lot to do aboard Deep Space Nine, but as usual, in the first few hours of any leave, Tate found herself at a loss. Her work was done and there would be additional counseling sessions to be had it in time, but right now, the crew needed time to decompress and to fully come to grips with what they had just experienced. Chances were, her schedule was about to be quite full in the coming days, but for now, she was on her own.
Sitting outside a well known, but apparently quiet café, Tate was content to enjoy her muffin and to watch people go by while she contemplated her next move.
Gary had left the ship and he had no set destination in mind. He decided to just stroll the station and take in the sights and if something caught his fancy all the better. For now he appeared to be coming up on a open air cafe.
Tate let her mind wander as she watched the people pass by. Spotting a familiar face, she was both surprised and delighted. "Commander Taylor? Great to see you, sir."
Gary had been wandering along the promenade lvel of DS9, he moved past different business when suddenly a familiar voice rang out, Looking around he saw the Elysium's Chief Counselor, Dr. Tate Sullivan. "Dr. Sullivan." He greeted her warmly, a smile coming to his face. "It's a pleasure to see you. Getting in a late snack?" He asked eying her muffin.
Tate grinned, eyeing her muffin. "A snack and some people watching. Care to join me?" She asked, gesturing to the chair opposite her.
Gary nodded gratefully, "Thank you, don't mind if I do." He replied as he sank into the chair. A waitress came up a moment later to take his order and he ordered a bagel and cup of coffee. "People watching huh? " He inquired after the watress had left. "And what if anything have you learned from your people watching? " He asked with a grin.
Tate chuckled. "I've learned that people everywhere can behave strangely and dress even weirder."
He looked out at the people walking past them. From what he could see, some of thepeople had on some weird outfits. Looking over at her, a grin still on his face, he asked, "Now you didn't need to become a counselor to form that opinion. Though it probably helps. Just what kind of weird behavior have you witnessed?" Curiosity creeping into his question.
Tate's eyes sparkled. "I suppose this isn't the strangest thing one could see, but a surprising number of people seem to regularly talk to themselves when they think no one is watching, and before you ask, I haven't seen any signs of hidden communicators. I'm talking genuine mumbling and debates for one here."
Gary chuckled at Tate's description of what she had seen. "So their inner debate has become a vocal one." He stated, "I thought it was normal and healthy for people to talk to themselves. You know, psych theselves up or give themselves a scolding if they've done something stupid. I guess I just lumped it with singing in the shower. Is my take wrong?"
Sullivan chuckled. "It's not the talking to oneself that is a problem, it's answering oneself."
Gary chuckled as well at Tate's remark, "Well, that's good to know because ..... he leaned forwrd towards her and lowered his voice, so only she could hear him. "To be honest, I talk to myself,when I'm alone in my quarters if I'm working on a problem and I can't see the answer." He finished straightening back up a grin on his face.
Tate leaned in toward him conspiratorially and offered, "So do I." She kept her expression inscrutable before she eventually broke into a smile and a chuckle. After a moment, she said, "So how is being an XO treating you?"
Gary smiled at the question, "Is that a personal or professional question?" He joked before answering. "I knew there was a lot to the position then just sitting around and giving orders but I never realized how much. I have to have the Captain's confidence as well as the crews. It's like walking a tight rope but I can handle it."
Sullivan chuckled. "I suppose it's both a personal and professional question. It's hard for me to turn off the professional, honestly." In response to the challenges he shared about his job, she said, "I can relate to walking that particular tight rope. My goal is to be a confidant to the command staff as well as the crew, without seeming like I am biased toward either one. Some people look at counselors suspiciously in general considering the power they had to remove people from duty."
"I appreciate your honesty Doctor." Gary answered with a smile. "Yes, you counselors get all the evil looks and stares. You can't make an observtion or ask a simple question without some people thinking you have an ulterior motive. I think I'm a good listener. I listen to crew complaints, I listen to the Captain complain about Admirals or missions or nothing specific. But I'd be a lousy counselor. I'd want to be giving my opinion or telling someone just to grow up or stop complaining or anything but just do your job." He paused for a moment, "I give you and your staff a lot of credit. You have a difficut and trying job."
"We both do," Sullivan acknowledged, not entirely comfortable with the flattery even though she knew it was sincere. Tate was used to giving support, not getting it. "You give yourself too little credit. It takes a lot to listen to the crew's complaints diplomatically and be a sounding board for the Captain. I wonder, is being an XO as lonely as some say being a CO can be?"
Gary didn't answer Tate's question right away. He thought on it, he didn't want and wasn't going to give a fluff answer. After a few seconds he replied. "It's definitely the road less traveled. " he began before going on, " I have to keep my own counsel. Not that I don't have friends, people I can talk to but in the end the decision is mine and rests with me, there's no passing the buck as the saying goes." He smiled at her, "You learn to accept it and live with it. it's the nature of the job."
"I can definitely relate. Some of the most difficult decisions I've had to make in my career have fallen squarely on my shoulders alone." One of the most significant decisions she had to be prepared to make on a regular basis concerned removing people from duty. "I won't pretend talking to me can completely eliminate the burden of command, but it is my hope I can make the crew feel a little less alone, and that includes you and the captain."
Gary nodded and smiled at Tate's offer, "You and the other counselors listen to crew members on a variety of issues and not only do you provide a helpful ear, you give in a lot of cases a much needed word of support and hope to those that come to you. I only hope that you have someone you can talk to, confide in, to help relieve the stress you face." He leaned back a smile crossing his face before he leaned forward again, "I'll make you a deal Counselor, if I am ever needing someone to talk and confide in, I'll come to you but..." He held a finger up "You have to promise that if you need someone to talk to, you'll come to me."
Tate smiled and paused for several beats. It was true that as much as she liked helping other people, she wasn't as accustomed to speaking out about her own needs. Still, she realized it would be hypocrisy not to be able to reach out for help, and it only made sense she would turn to the XO. "Deal," she eventually replied, holding out her hand for a shake.
Gary watched Tate as she apprarently thought on his proposal before agreeing to it. When she did and held out her hand, he could help but smile. He was glad she had seen the wisdom in his words that if she ever needed someone to talk to, he was there for her. Extending his own hand, he gripped hers and gave it a shake, saying "Deal" as he did.
Sullivan released her hand from his and said, "I thought this muffin would be enough, but suddenly I am famished. Shall we order a proper breakfast?"
Gary nodded in agreement. "An excellent suggestion Doctor. I'm surprised my stomach hasn't started growling around all this food." He joked as he looked around. spotted a waitress and waved her over to take their order.
Commander Gary Taylor
Lt.Commander Tate Sullivan Ph.D