Dealing with the Hangover
Posted Star Date 22003.22 @ 03:13 (03:13 AM)
Posted Star Date 22003.24 @ 00:12 (12:12 AM)
Benjamin found Kate standing in engineering, hands on a console as she stared at the viewscreen. She wasn't really working on anything, just... standing there. It wasn't an uncommon problem from what he'd encountered. From what he'd experienced. He walked up beside her and put on his best smile, which wasn't very good in the circumstances. "Everything okay?"
She jumped and turned towards him, hand on her chest. "You scared me," she said. "Don't sneak up on me like that." He couldn't help but chuckle, hands up defensively as she chuckled too. "Yeah, I'm okay," she told him. "I'm surprised you have time to care these days."
He rolled his eyes and leaned back on the console. "You..." He sighed and shook his head. "You know nothing's happening there, right?"
She winked at him. "Sure, that's what you and Cera both say." She smiled that conspiratorial smile she did so well and shook her head at him. "I don't know why you and she..."
"This is not a conversation I'm going to be having with you," he said and started to walk away. Of course, there was a smile on his lips as he went, which he couldn't entirely hide. Maybe because you think she's right?
"You know I'm right," she said playfully, pursuing him. "You mope around here, wearing that wedding ring despite repeatedly talking about your ex. And don't think Orivessa and I haven't noticed your more recent behavior."
That got him to stop. "What behavior," he asked bluntly as he rounded on her. He caught the edge in his voice as he said it, and the look in Kate's eyes as she heard it. Regret sank into him, but it was too late to choke the words back down. "Kate, I--"
"It's.. it's okay," she said. She took a breath as he deflated, feeling sheepish. "Guess I hit a nerve?" He just nodded at her as he stepped a little further away, and was glad that the room was mostly deserted. "We just worry, you know? You've been distant recently, even before all of this happened. And don't think I didn't notice you drinking on the job."
He shot a look at her, surprised. He'd been trying to be discrete, and thought he hadn't been spotted. It had just been a little nip here, a sip there, but... If it was obvious to her, who else noticed? he thought. He'd long prided himself on putting the "functional" in functional alcoholic, and keeping his recreational activities separate from his work. The fact that he was being blackmailed by the Syndicate - or more precisely, a former drug-runner-turned-strongman for the Syndicate - had evidently affected him even more than he'd thought.
Considering he'd thought it was tearing him apart, he wasn't sure what that meant.
She set a hand on his arm. "Listen, just come ask us for help, okay?" She gave him a wan smile before looking around. "I'm gonna go run a diagnostic on the environmental systems," she said. "Still feels off in here." She turned and left, leaving him standing in the middle of the room. Alone, and unsure.
What the hell am I doing, he thought to himself as he stared around the room again. I should just resign, get out of here. After all, if he wasn't in Starfleet anymore, there wasn't much that Harkens could get from him. Of course, that would mean he'd likely kill Iris, which was of course where it all fell down. That was the goal: keep her alive, and keep her safe.
But why? he thought. She's not your problem anymore. She was pretty clear about that in the damn divorce papers. He still felt the anger and vitriol she had spat at him that day she threw him out of his own house, the accusations and the hatred. All over some imagined affair she thought he was having. You don't owe her anything, he thought. So why do you care?
Because you love her. Loved her, he corrected, playing with his ring. Even now, he didn't think he would go back to her if she asked. But that wasn't the same as moving on, as he well knew. He sighed, and wondered not for the first time how he was going to get her out of this mess. And yourself, incidentally.
He heard something behind him, and turned around in time to see Tyra walking across the nearly empty floor, tapping something into her hand as she walked through the room. It took him more than a moment to realize that it was his flask, which he had lost in the middle of the bridge. "I'm assuming this is yours based on the taste of the white lightnin' inside? I promise I left some, though I doubt you'd have an issue refilling..."
He sighed and leaned back against the console he was near, shaking his head. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said transparently. "Sorry I haven't gotten a chance to come see you since..." he waved a hand around the room. "Well, since all of this. I know I should have, but I just..." He crossed his arms back and looked in the captain's general direction, but couldn't bring himself to look right at her. "I just couldn't figure out what to say.
"So how can I help you?" he asked. "I'm sure you've got my report by now." I did turn that report in, right? he thought.
Posted Star Date 22003.28 @ 00:05 (12:05 AM)
Posted Star Date 22003.29 @ 17:53 (05:53 PM)
Benjamin furrowed his brow for a moment as Tyra chuckled at him. "I did and it was well written. Evie really enjoyed it before bedtime -- knocked her right out," she offered wryly. He joined her chuckle at that remark. He knew it had been... dry. A summary of damages, steps taken to repair them, and then casualty figures didn't make for the most entertaining of reads, but there wasn't much he could do about that. Especially if you want to keep your sanity, he thought grimly.
"But this isn't exactly a business call or I would have come in something a little stuffier and probably more suffocating," she continued, standing up from where she'd been leaning and setting the flask on the top of the console he was leaning on. "Plus, if this was business, I'd probably be obligated to remind you that certain items aren't duty issue whereas I'm actually just going to tell you to not make a habit of losing it or you just might not get it back next time."
He grabbed the flask quickly and made it disappear into a pocket. He tried to figure out what to say, and the silence between them stretched out into an uncomfortable, interminable pause. The words just slipped from his mind as the guilt he felt at being discovered like that crept over him. He wanted to tell her why, why his drinking had gotten worse and why he had had the flask even on him, much less out in his hand.
But if you do, you risk everything, he reminded himself. Harkens and the Syndicate had a man on the Artemis, he knew. And he still had no idea who it was. He hadn't had much time to even try and figure out who it was, what with the battle throwing them into disarray so quickly after he'd gotten back from the wedding. And despite their relative privacy here, there were still people around, and he didn't know who might be watching by internal sensor, either. He couldn't risk telling her anything, and instead just let his head hang as his hand rested on the flask.
"I wanted to check in with you about how the engineers are doing," she finally continued, "about how you're doing. I've been elbow deep in Sickbay so I know how they're doing but I just... well, there's a fine line between allowing people to work through things on their own and leaving them feeling like no one else knows how they feel." She averted her own gaze then, hands diving into her pockets as if unsure what to do with them. "And I'm not sure exactly where that line is for anyone right now...even me but I figure it's my job to try to find it."
He nodded at that one, realizing just how close it was to his own thoughts at that point. We all have our own burdens, he reminded himself. "Most of the engineers are... well, they're busy. I've been trying to keep the rotation light, give people plenty of downtime. I think that Kate took it on herself to organize groups visiting the engineers still recovering, keeping their spirits up."
His shoulders hunched as he tried to look the redhead in the face, his eyes just refusing to stay focused there. "I... I guess you heard from Cera, didn't you?" He assumed she had; the Betazoid may have let her own reputation take a hit to the crew, but she wasn't going to sit by and not let her friends suffer, especially when someone needed to be told. "I'm doing better since then," he exaggerated. "I've been getting more sleep" - helped by gin, he added to himself - "and trying to make more time for other things. Went down to see Orivessa just this morning, actually."
It wasn't a total lie; he really had been doing a bit better since his breakdown. Fortunately the copious amounts of alcohol at the party had helped him that night, and he'd found time to talk to his family some the past couple of days. He hadn't been able to tell them anything, of course, but it had helped him relax and center some. He'd considered finding the ship's counselor to speak to them, but he hadn't made a real effort for that, instead consulting his still every night for a prescription-strength sleep aid.
The Andorian engineer, when he'd gone to see her, had been glad to see him, but had reamed him out for not seeing the counselor. How she knew, he didn't know; he assumed that Kate had told her. "You're in charge now," she had said to him, breathing hard due to the lung damage she had suffered. "If you're not okay, then the department isn't okay. Go. Get. Help."
And here the captain was, telling him much the same thing. Maybe one of these days, I'll listen to someone.
Posted Star Date 22003.31 @ 01:18 (01:18 AM)
Posted Star Date 22003.31 @ 23:15 (11:15 PM)
Posted Star Date 22004.03 @ 18:07 (06:07 PM)
Posted Star Date 22004.08 @ 22:21 (10:21 PM)
Benjamin listened as Tyra talked. It wasn't exactly a rousing speech, but it was true. It felt true. It wasn't comforting, it wasn't a pile of sunshine keeping him buoyed up and optimistic. It was hard and tough to swallow, but it had the ring of truth to it. He knew that Tyra had seen some tough **** in her day, things that no officer should be asked to live through, to command through, but had somehow come through it. Hearing her say that it was just as tough today as it was the first time it happened, if nothing else it made her human. And maybe my feelings aren't so far off the mark as I thought.
"The only difference between me now and 21 year old me getting her first taste of this kind of **** show is that I have the experience to know how to channel the grief and the anger into something marginally useful," she continued, hands thrust into her pockets again. "Even with that said and with how much experience I have with this type of thing, I oversaw a battle that will likely end up being considered one of the biggest catastrophic loss of uniformed life in modern fleet history. I have a pile of letters to write to families and people who want answers that I don't have, that I will never have. and honestly, I'm not okay with that. I'm not okay with any of that and I should never be. So I don't expect you all to be, especially those of you who haven't swam through the muck a couple times, but I also don't want to see this destroy more people than it needs to."
She looked at him, eyebrow raised. "So just promise you'll be a little easier on yourself? And if you can't be, let someone else help."
He hung his head again for a moment, worrying at his wedding ring again. Right, he thought. Easier. He knew they were talking about the losses here, the deaths in the battle, but he couldn't help but pull back to the blackmail, the sword of Damocles poised over his head. She was right, he needed help, but he couldn't. Not with a spy still loose, not with Iris still in danger. He couldn't imagine seeing her body lying there, like L'Haan had been, or like the other engineers. He just... he couldn't handle it, if that were on his head.
"I'll try," he said. It was all he could say, and it was true. "Maybe I can go see Mary, see her band perform one night." He thought for a moment and nodded. "Think they're playing on Andoria at the moment, could maybe check in on Ori while she's rehabbing there."
It was pretty transparent, even to him. It wouldn't actually help him, but keeping busy was something, right? And it would be good to see Mary perform again; he'd actually really enjoyed seeing them play, and it couldn't be a bad idea. A good idea, maybe not, but not a bad idea. Didn't he have some music she'd sent he needed to listen to? He couldn't remember. Maybe you're still pushing yourself too hard.
Or maybe you're just trying so hard to not let everyone down that you're going to fail everyone anyway.
"Thank you," he said finally, trying to ignore himself and just press on. "I..." He stopped, shaking his head again. "I wish I could do more. Promise more. I just... Right now, I don't know what I can do."
Posted Star Date 22004.14 @ 16:28 (04:28 PM)