Chapter 1 - Tea Talk

Patricia exited the turbolift, a small vase with assorted flowers in her hand as she walked down the corridor and stopped at the Counselor’s office.  She’d been in there about a week before under the cover of night but things were different now.  She touched the chime and couldn’t wait to share her good news.


Statzia’s eyes looked from the console to the Counselor curled up in one of the chairs. The cup of tea in her hands had probably long since gone cold. The chime rattled the Counselor from whatever thought she’d been lost in and she nearly upset the tea in her lap. Statzia glanced to the door, blanked the console screen, and leaned casually back in the desk chair before giving a nod.


Millie set the cup of tea on a table and stood. “Enter.”


Patricia entered in a seemingly great mood, and gave Millie a grin, before noticing Statzia.  “Oh, I’m sorry did I interrupt a session?”


Millie gave a glance to the Intelligence officer at her desk. Statzia caught the meaning behind the glance, and noticing the flowers in Patricia’s hands, began to gather up the small collection of PADDs. “It’s alright, Counselor. Take all the time you need. We can wrap this up later.”


She knew what that meant. Interrogation. The grin stayed like any other disguise she’d ever adopted.  Setting the vase down on one of the end tables, she stayed standing.


Millie gave a nod. “I’ll let you know when I’m done.” She watched Statzia go, before turning her attention to the flowers and managing a smile. “Those are lovely. Thank you, Trish.” She picked up her cup, walking to the kettle she kept on the end of her desk. “I need a fresh cup. Can I pour you some?”


“Sure.”  She walked and sat in one of the client chairs. “So what was that all about?”


Millie glanced at the closed door briefly. “There’s just a…lot of things to tie up. Undoing my death is a lot of paperwork, apparently.” She brought the two mugs over to the chairs, handing one to Patricia. “I should be back on duty in a few days.”


“Don’t rush it, I don’t think anyone is going to be mad if you spend a few days with your family after a technological near death experience.” She took a sip. “How’re you feeling?”


Millie tucked both feet under her. “Fine, I guess. “Sickbay gave me the all-clear.” She gave a quiet sigh. “Maybe a bit angry at how Starfleet treated Evelyn and La’lana in my absence.”


“I wanted to shoot that guy, but they wouldn’t let me.”


“Probably best that you didn’t.” Millie managed a smile. “That would have involved even more paperwork. And La’lana needed her Auntie around, from what I heard. I need to keep you out of trouble.”


“So I have some news of my own,not as exciting as yours of course, but I didn’t get to tell you before you went down planetside that day.”  She took another sip.  “When we were on shore leave, Chance and I met with a doctor we’d been in contact with. He’s an expert in a few fields and one of them involves organ replacement therapy. After some tests showed promise, we moved ahead and by the time we got back to the ship I was whole again.” For emphasis she waved her hand around her abdomen. “It wasn’t a for sure thing and Chance was watching me like a hawk in case there was some kind of unexpected rejection but if my mood swings have been any indication everything is in working order now.”


Millie’s eyebrows raised. “So…it worked?” A more genuine smile crept across her face. “Are you…?”


“No, I’m not.  We needed to ensure that things got to this stage first. I’d forgotten how unpleasant it was to be in working order. Seventeen years of not dealing with it makes you take that for granted.”


Millie seemed to relax a bit. “So, how much longer until you move to the next stage?”


“Well, I was so excited when you returned, we took a good swing at it that night.”  She grinned as she took a drink.


Millie laughed and almost spit out her tea. “So did it work?”


“Not that I know, but I don’t mind keep trying.”  She motioned to Millie.  “What’s with the gloves?”


The smile slipped from Millie’s face as she looked to the hands holding her cup. “Side effect from the transporter incident, it would seem. I’ve contracted–” Millie paused, not looking up. “Some kind of skin condition.”


“Ew.  Want me to ask Chance to find you some kind of cure?”


Millie chuckled softly, shaking her head. “He’s…aware of what’s going on. The gloves just make it more comfortable. It’s a fair trade for being able to keep my family together.”


Patricia gave a nod, accepting the answer. “I think I’m gonna wring the neck of the entire Engineering department, with one exception, for not being able to find you for so long.”


“Please don’t blame them, Trish.” Millie started to reach out a hand to reassure her, but pulled her hand back to her lap. “From what I understand, they exhausted themselves to bring me back. It’s not their fault.”


“The only saving grace they have is that little girl missed you but wasn’t old enough to understand why.” She’d never referred to La’lana as such before, using falling back on names like cub or kitty. Her access to and connection during the mourning time had left its mark.


Millie nodded. “Children are very resilient.” She swallowed hard. “I…don’t think I would have forgiven myself if anything happened to her. I was almost too late–”


“Not like you could help it. Things just happened to fall into place as a miracle.”


“Everyone is safe. That’s all that matters.” Millie sighed and took a long sip of her tea.


“I don’t think you’ll need to twist the Captain’s arm to get him into a session for a while.  You hit him pretty hard.”


A pained expression flickered across Millie’s face. “What happened?”


“He has learned that being the CO means moving on from terrible things because that is what the job demands, but he’s also come to see the crew as not just co-workers or underlings. Losing you was a big hit to everyone but I think it was really personal to him.”


“He’s really come a long way in the last few years.” Millie traced a gloved finger along the handle of the tea cup. “He hasn’t picked me up and moved me out of the way in a long time.”


“Patricia’s eyes went to the door. “I’ve gotten to know Liski a little, but if she crosses a line and makes you feel uncomfortable let me know.”


Millie gave a soft chuckle. “She reminds me a lot of you. Trained to be a deadly weapon, trying to figure out how to pass as a normal person and put that assassin part away because they’ve fallen in love. Told me that she’s going to petition to join his clan–which I guess is their equivalent to becoming a part of his family.” She looked up. “The two of you seem to be getting along pretty well.”


“We may have some similarities, I admit that, but it’s still my job to protect the people I care about.”


“I think your focus is already there.” Millie smiled. “You have an amazing husband and son, and now you can work towards growing that family. As long as you–” She stopped. “I just want you to be happy, Patricia.”


“As long as I what?” 


Millie sighed quietly. “As long as we keep you here, with your family. They need you.”


Patricia looked confused. “Where else would I be?”


“I don’t know…marooned with me on another pre-warp world?” Millie took another sip. “We can’t have you running into danger if you’re pregnant, right?”


“Let’s not put the cart before the horse. It’s been hard enough giving up smoking.”


Millie smirked. “Just wait until you have to give up alcohol, too.” She took another sip of her tea.


The look Patricia gave showed she didn’t think that was very funny.