Medicine and Music
Mission: Mission 2.5: Intermission
During her time at the academy, P'ril had gotten the somewhat insane idea to qualify as an AEMT as well as majoring in Engineering. She had figured it would come in handy if an engineer was injured. The quicker they got medical care, the better, after all. And she had been right; it had saved at least two lives of which she knew for sure. And because of this, she had managed to be in some of the same classes as Theo Hunnicutt. Had she been paying less attention to her surroundings, she likely wouldn't have remembered him, but it was the eyes. She had, of course, noticed those pale green- almost grey in the right lighting- eyes the first time she saw him. They were, as she had noted to a classmate later, quite aesthetically pleasing.
So Vulcan of her.
But, this was important because now, when she was overseeing some upgrades to Sick Bay and had been instructed to coordinate with Dr. T. Hunnicutt, she knew exactly who to look for. Not that most people didn't know the Captain's son, but it helped that she was familiar with his face. Well, okay, she was familiar with his eyes.
Walking into main Sick Bay, she glanced around a bit before asking a nurse where to find him. She was directed to the third level, where she found him along with several other nurses and doctors, all busily doing whatever it was nurses and doctors did when there were no patients. "Dr. Hunnicutt," she said as she approached. "Lieutenant P'ril. We are to go over the upgrades to Sick Bay."
Theo put down his poker hand, laid the cards face-down on the makeshift table, stood up and turned to offer his hand to the newcomer. "Theo. Call me Theo," he insisted quietly, and flashed a shy smile at the little blond bombshell. "Sure thing," he agreed. "Right now?"
He remembered her well enough, Bronwyn P'ril. Whether she knew it or not she'd been a great comfort to him at times during their mutual studies at the Academy, and he still hummed the tune to some of those complex melodies she'd written when anxiety raised its brutish and ill-timed head during those quieter moments on board the Potter. A ship, out here in all this vast expanse, with who knew what waiting to destroy them... yeah... Theo pushed down that recurring circular thought.
"Right now," he said again, with far more certainty. "I fold," he told the gathering, and gave P'ril his full attention. "Where do you want to start?"
“Surgery monitors,” replied P’ril decisively. “A few of them still do not have holo-monitors. I am not sure which ones, however.”
"Sounds great," said Theo, a little less so. "C'mon then, let's make a start. I'm sure," he added as he moved to check his PADD. "There's a ship-wide list somewhere, but we can start with the ones I know about." He led the way and pointed them out, then checking the labels, added. "Need the serial numbers?"
She nodded, making notes on her own PADD. “In case they decide to walk away,” she added with the merest hint of a wink.
"Heh," Theo smiled. "I guess I'm just used to having to record the minute detail of everything. Maybe the curse of a doctor huh?"
"Engineers, as well," agreed P'ril, scanning the serial number codes into her PADD. "Failure to do so can result in catastrophic consequences for both careers."
An overt shiver briefly rattled through the man's form as the young woman uttered those first two 'c' words and Theo's gaze dropped to the floor which suddenly seemed a little uneasily unsteady. His brain had just conjured up some vivid imagery of just what could go wrong around here. "Sorry," he mumbled as he tried to grab a grip on his phobia. "Be alright in a sec..."
Being human meant that P'ril was able to recognize certain body language. Being Vulcan meant that she was also extremely observant. Put the two together and P'ril recognized the signs of anxiety right away. Though she couldn't have guessed what exactly had brought on the anxiety, she still knew what was happening. "Shall we take a break?" she suggested, keeping a passive eye on his facial expression.
"I'm fine," Theo lied, gaze still downward as he tried to bring that fear back in check. Echoes of old explosions and those nightmarish screams threatened at the edges of his consciousness, and he slipped back into the breathing techniques he'd been taught as a teen. "Just... uh... probably ate too much earlier..." Yeah. That sounded lame even to his own ears.
Devlyn Selek's voice suddenly sounded in her voice, his animated nature making the statement louder and more obnoxious than P'ril could ever hope to do. And so, when she repeated the words she heard in her brother's voice, they were far less interesting than if he had been here to say them himself. "You are a terrible liar, Theo," she said evenly. "Come with me. This can wait for a few minutes." And without waiting for him to reply or argue, she directed him out of Sick Bay and towards the crew quarters.
Crap... thought Theo, as he allowed himself to be shepherded out of the vicinity of the others. The corridors were a slow motion blur as P'ril controlled their immediate destiny and he didn't have the energy right now to change that. Intrusive thoughts filled his head and fought for his full attention. "Where are we going?" He mumbled in a moment of coherence, but his visual focus was still downward. Was the ship lurching? Or was that just overactive imagination?
“To relax,” she answered as they arrived at her quarters. The doors parted automatically- having sensed her bio sign- revealing the same sparse quarters everyone had. There was one small addition, however; a small digital piano that could be easily and quickly disassembled and put into a wheeled carrying case sat in one corner of the room, crammed between a small table and the adjacent wall. “Sit,” she instructed, nodding towards the chair as she pressed the power button on the piano and sat on the accompanying stool.
Relax? Was she joking? Theo thought, the words not escaping his lips as he fought the demons in his own head. He saw nothing but floor as P'ril instructed him to take a seat, then noticed the chair and aimed himself at it. The whole room seemed to spin in at least three opposing directions and Theo wondered if he'd throw up. He grabbed the piece of furniture as if his life depended on it and sat on it the wrong way around, his whole body curled forward about the back of the chair, head sheltered beneath his own crossed arms.
Without preamble, P’ril began playing the most relaxing piece she could think of- Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1. Soon, even she was more relaxed. Playing did that to her- took to her own little universe where only she and the music existed. It was both comforting and relaxing.
Theo's headspace slowly calmed, little by little those nagging alarm bells and shouts to panic and flee quietening down to that familiar dull roar. He hadn't moved yet, still curled in a seated ball with the chair as his protection, but his shoulders showed less tension and his breathing returned to normal. His eyes remained shut for the moment and his mind processed the music, time shifting backwards to shared time at the Academy.
"Thank you," he mumbled, embarrassed to all kinds of hell.
He needn't have been, of course. Both humans and Vulcans took mental health very seriously. "My pleasure," replied P'ril honestly. She enjoyed playing and didn't mind taking a few minutes out of her day to do it. Once the first piece came to an end, she started Sir Paul McCartney's A Leaf, first movement. It was one of her favorite pieces from twentieth-century Earth. "We all have our moments," she added softly.
P'ril kept playing and Theo was eternally grateful for that musical continuation. He didn't - couldn't - talk right now. He hated that the tiny reference had triggered him and he needed time. Time to regroup mentally, time to not take any drugs or say something stupid, time to not curl up in a ball on his bunk and cry. Music... overrode all those panic signals and soaked into his very being. While it couldn't undo the events from his past or bring his mother back, P'ril's special power was a peaceful journey, a rescue mission of the mind.
Finally, Theo relaxed enough to open his eyes and muster up a faded half-smile.
After Chopin's Nocturne in E flat major and Debussy's First Arabesque, P'ril finally turned to see how Theo was doing. "Better?" she asked simply.
A soft smile took up residence on the young man's face, and Theo's gaze lingered on P'ril's own with a definite theme of warm gratitude. "Better," he said. "I don't know how to properly thank you. But thank you." He stood up, walked across that short distance between them and offered up his arms. "Hug?"
Though Vulcans were not prone to physical contact, P'ril was also human. Her mother's voice sounded in her head, telling her that she was just as much human as she was Vulcan and she should explore both sides of her personality. So, she stood and allowed Theo to hug her. "I am certain I can think of something," she said, half teasing. Teasing was a human thing, right?
Theo wasn't sure how that would go, hence requesting permission first, but he made the most of that consent when it was given and enveloped his old Academy friend with a quietly enthusiastic fraternally close hug. He didn't linger too long, but allowed himself just enough time to ensure P'ril knew she'd been thanked.
"Well," he said as he stepped back. "When you think of something, tell me. I can't even vocalise how much your music helped," he admitted, baring his soul a little more than he usually would. "You always helped settle my anxiety back on Earth." Theo's eyes looked deep into P'ril's. "I just... I don't have the words..." She knew, already, at least enough of the detail of his mother's passing to understand why.
“I understand,” she replied, giving him one of her almost smiles. “Are you ready to return to your duties?”
That hit like a punch to the gut, and Theo's expression reflected his surprise. "I guess." A pause. "Yeah. I think so." Then the guilty realisation crashed into his brain - he was slowing P'ril's work down right now. "Sorry," Theo said, lowering his gaze. "Yes, I can work, let's get back to it." What had he been thinking?!
His reaction was not lost on P'ril. "There is no hurry," she replied. "If you need more time, we can certainly take it."
In the presence of someone he considered a friend, even if it had been a while since they'd spent any personal time together, Theo opted for honesty. "I'm able to return to my duties," he clarified. "I just realised I'd been enjoying this time we were spending." There was apology wrapped about those words - duty was more important - and Theo looked mildly guilty about his admission.
P'ril afforded him with half a smile for half a moment. "I have enjoyed it as well," she replied. "Do not dwell on guilt; mental health is far more important than any tasks we have to complete today."
That return smile was a little coy, absolutely genuine and guilt-free. "You're right," Theo confirmed with the same resolute attitude that had brought him all the way out here despite his fears. "Let's get this job done."