Two in Teal Talk Over Tea
Season 2: Mission 2: Just Breath
Timeline: during the chase
With the emergency medical facilities set up in the Eclipse casino, Estelle was on her way to the cabin she'd been assigned. Walking the corridor with two bags of personal belongings which she had managed to bring aboard - two crates of cargo were waiting on Deep Space Nine to be sent to the Elysium, once recovered - over her shoulders. At the bend, she saw the woman whose face she had seen on the senior officer service files she had studies on her way to Deep Space Nine, and whose name had appeared on the berthing assignment next to hers. She sped up, calling, "Dr. Sullivan! Hello." Catching up to her, she smiled. "I'm Estelle Hertz, it's good to meet you."
Tate turned at the sound of her name and spotted a face that thus far was only familiar to her from a computer screen. She smiled warmly as the other woman made a point to catch up to her, not used to being sought out, especially by the new arrivals. Tate held out her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Estelle. As I recall, we're to be roommates."
Estelle nodded. "And to that end, I wanted to ask you if you'd like to share lunch... dinner, well, whichever works", the surgeon suggested. "We still have a while before we might need to unplug the ventilation system, and I believe in going into action on a full stomach. How about you?"
"Sharing a meal, whatever we call it, sounds great," Tate replied with a deeper grin. "What did you have in mind?"
"Our cabin is just a little further down this corridor", Estelle said. "We can't eat in the casino, it's now a medical facility. But, I have this." She reached behind the collar of her uniform and pulled out an isolinear chip. "My favourite dishes, ready for the replicator to reproduce." She'd always enjoyed replicated food, and found many people who didn't only didn't if they didn't know. "Give you time to figure out how nuts I am, too."
Tate chuckled, appreciating Estelle's genuine humor related to Sullivan's work. It wasn't mocking and didn't ring false. "That is a thought," she pretended to contemplate, "but I do take off the duty hat when I'm eating, especially cheeseburgers."
"Hm, those aren't on my chip", Estelle said. "But I'm sure the replicator can fashion them regardless." She led the way to their temporary berthing, keyed open the door and noticed it was a cabin intended for one person. She stepped inside and looked around. A bed, a table with chairs, a sofa, a replicator, no window. "Charming. It'll do for a day or two. You don't snore, I hope?"
Tate smiled weakly, honestly not sure how to answer that question. "I don't think so. At least I didn't when I had to share a room at the Academy, but that was some time ago." She chuckled as she entered the smaller space. "If I do, I give you complete permission to whack me with something until I stop."
"You're in luck. I'm a surgeon. If you do, you won't come morning", Estelle grinned. She inserted her isolinear chip into the replicator and downloaded her preferences to the ship's computer, before placing the chip back where it came from. She'd need it again on the Elysium. "Name your poison, I'll set the table."
Tate's eyes sparkled. "I'm a psychologist. If I end up murdered, people will be so disappointed I was unable to predict it." Donning a smile, she added, "I was thinking of having a synthetic ale. It's not as exciting as the real thing, I know, but it's been a little while since I've shared dinner with someone that wasn't a working meal, and I feel like unwinding a bit. What can I get you?"
"Synthale sounds good", Estelle agreed. "And I haven't lost a patient during non-emergency surgery yet. I'd hate fixing your snore to be the first." She smirked. She would never kill anyone unless she absolutely, positively had to, or was driven insane by something incredibly annoying. "I was joking about curing you, not cutting you into pieces."
Tate chuckled, clearly embarrassed. "I knew you were joking, of course, but my mind went immediately to thinking you were joking about killing me because of my snoring. Hmmm... you were worried about your psyche, but what does my slip say about mine?" She asked, her eyes sparkling mischievously. She turned her attention to ordering them each a beverage, carefully carrying a tray over to the nearby table.
"As one of my childhood heroes, also a surgeon, used to say, 'I'm not a psychiatrist. I am not screwed up enough.' And while I mean no offence, my thinking is certainly not aligned", Estelle stated. She grabbed some bread and an assortment of cold cuts from the replicator and placed them on the table. "I've been asked to tune down my degree of silliness on other assignments before, I'm expecting it to happen again here before long. But until then, I'm going to enjoy myself."
Tate laughed. "I'm aware there's a degree of truth in psychiatrists and other mental health professionals having less than ideal childhoods and their fair share of shortcomings. That was certainly the case in my own life, although my parents loved me in their own ways. As far as being required to tone down the silliness here, you may be surprised," Tate offered diplomatically. Some of the pettiness she'd seen amongst the crew was more than a little troubling to her, but she recognized the importance of being discreet, even here.
"I don't know if my childhood was ideal or not", Estelle shrugged. "I don't think I've got any right to complain, though. Living among Andorians wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to me, except I was always cold. I'm not one to enjoy the heat, but Andorians are extremophiles." She pointed to the replicator. "Anything else while I'm standing around?"
Tate looked at the spread and offered, "Maybe some cheese and some dill pickles to put on our sandwiches? I can't imagine growing up amongst Andorians for the temperature differences alone. I hate to be cold all the time almost as much as I hate to be hot."
"Put a sack over your head then", Estelle teased, as she retrieved the cheese and pickles. She placed everything on the table and sat down. "If you've never had any German bread, you'll love this. My father's favourite food, and he delighted everyone he met with it." She paused, then added. "And the most difficult thing is the fights. Andorians are very aggressive, the women especially. They're also sturdier than us, so what tickles them might break a bone in us. Took some getting used to from both sides."
"It looks delicious," Tate remarked, as she politely offered each platter, one at a time to Estelle so she could put together her meal. "Did the Andorians you encountered often pick fights with you?"
Estelle nodded. "Of course. Rites of passage, playful duels, romantic overtures. It's all part of growing up. They were more careful around me, though. I had the endurance advantage, so it all balanced out in the end." She spread butter on her bread and put smoked salmon on it. "Besides, I try to make it as hard as possible for anyone to actually want to pick a fight with me."
"By killing them with kindness, so to speak?" Tate guessed. "I could be projecting here, as I can't imagine physically fighting with anyone, playfully or not. I suppose in that kind of environment, though, I'd have to learn. Otherwise, I'd be the kid constantly getting her butt kicked, and that would get old really quick."
"Playful is fun. I do it on the holodeck all the time." Estelle grinned. "There's this great holographic adaptation of old fantasy universes, like Tolkien's world, or Nirn. I have to stay in shape somehow, and I really don't like sports or similar pursuits, so playing these stories is great for me." She took a bite. "Besides, we've all got some aggression in us, so a harmless way to release them is always welcome, wouldn't you say?"
"That's a fair point," Tate replied with a nod, taking time to fill her own plate. "We all need releases, although some research suggests activities that are designed to let people vent their anger can often end up reinforcing the anger instead, because it takes angry energy to sustain them. All things in moderation, I suppose."
"I wouldn't describe myself as angry. I'm talking about what evolution gave us, the basis for greed and wrath and even the desire to fight", Estelle responded. "I want to channel that into something that's fun, rather than have to repress it and work on my self-discipline all the time. Don't worry, I'm not going to poke sharp objects into people outside of what my job requires."
"I wasn't worried," Tate offered with a laugh. "Surgeons may have the reputation of being cut or poke happy, but in Starfleet, you learn restraint."
Estelle took a bite and a sip before responding, "I've been asked not to refer to my patients as victims any more. Apparently, it makes them uneasy."
Tate's eyes sparkled, not quite sure what was true and what wasn't. "Seriously?"
"You're the mental health professional here, you tell me if it's true or not", Estelle shrugged. "Nah, some people just don't get my sense of humour. It's like they're wearing pointy ears in disguise."
"Maybe it's a question of timing?" Tate offered. "I'm sorry. As a therapist, some part of me always has to consider that people are serious."
"Don't press your luck", Estelle grinned. "You squeeze too hard, something gooey will squirt in your face." She paused, gave her a thoughtful look, then asked. "Or was that lukar fruit? They are mushy inside..."
Tate chuckled. She liked Estelle's sense of humor. "No squeezing heads too hard...got it!"
Lieutenant Estelle Hertz, M.D.
Lieutenant Commander Tate Sullivan, Ph.D.