T Shaini/Harry Finn Human Voices Wake Us

Harry Finn, Session 1

Finn sat on the couch, poised at the edge of the seat, ready to run… not that he could… run… he had orders. An hour a week. An entire hour of assisted self-examination dissection under the too-watchful eye of the ever-helpful Wendy, ah, T’Shaini.

He looked at the Counselor.

She looked at him, head tilted, eyes, as always, curious.

Harry clenched his jaw, realized what he was doing and unclenched it. “This,” he finally stated, falling back on honesty, “is… awkward.”

She simply folded her hands in her lap and let the awkwardness stretch until it was ready to snap.

Harry snapped.

Jumping up from the couch he started to pace. He'd have grabbed the damn yo-yo but he'd just come off shift and he wasn't the kind of guy to carry toys on duty. "Sooo?" he asked, making short work of the small office… "what do you want to…" I can't believe I'm saying this, "talk about?"

T'Shaini lips lifted in a placid smile. "This is your time Harry, it is not for me to decide what we will 'talk about', it is what you decided needs to be aired."

"Now, you see, right there I think we have a problem," he said, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the bulkhead, stars wizzing past unheeded behind him, "Unless you have an urgent need to explore the inherent nastiness of tube maintenance…" and he winced at the unfortunate terminology for keeping the torpedo launch tubes clean and functional, "I'm not sure I have that much going on."


He sighed.

"It's been a quiet week?" he tried.

"Has it?" She waited, counted to ten, watched him fidget, then counted to ten again. *sigh* "Harry, I do not need you to tell me about the hangnail you had when you were three that no one attended to, I do not even require that you dive headfirst into any emotional territory that you do not wish to. We could sit in silence if that is what you prefer." Since it was so clearly not what he would prefer T'Shaini let those words fall into silence, she debated letting it extend further, then struggled to suppress a smile at the anathema that she was about to suggest. "Or we could meditate together. There would be no need for words, and even if you have not attempted meditation before, the silence may be soothing."

Even he was surprised by the laugh that burst out at that, "Oh, boy," he said, between the chortles, "I have to tell ya' Wendy, I'd have to put that idea right up with, say, dancing naked in Haite Ashbury on a January morning. Oh," he realized that this might have come across badly to someone who had an actual meditation corner in their office, "ah… but, you know… I hear it's good.. for some … " And where is that shovel when you need it?

The smile she had been struggling against finally won over propriety. "Not that I do not think it would be of benefit to you, but I do have trouble picturing you calmly submitting to a meditation practice." She pulled her feet up to cross her legs underneath her. "Would you be more comfortable if I asked you questions? Ones that you can refuse to answer if they are too uncomfortable? Would you like to ask me questions?" After a slight pause her eyebrow quirked upward. "I also have toys and game in the corner that I use for the children when if you would prefer."

Harry considered that. Then he smiled, "I paint-bombed my roommate this week," he told her, wondering if that would be a strike against him, in her estimation, or if, in the end, he cared.

After all, what kind of life could he look forward to, if every single step were measured in advance? Should I do this, dare I say that do I dare to eat a peach? Harry kept the smile, but, inside, he felt the turning.

Not knowing why the mention of paint-bombing made the color slide from his face, T'Shaini decided not to directly address it. "What exactly is a paint-bomb?"

Blink. "Ah… it's…" he tilted his head, considering, "in this case, it's more of a 'home protection device'." At the blank expression he continued, foraying into more normal environs, "I don't know if you've heard tell of Alex Gorsky but, apparently he's got a rep for running through cabin mates. I figured, best way to deal with that was a pre-emptive strike. I warned him, strongly, to leave my stuff alone… he ignored the warning, touched my stuff and got a face-full of Rainbow Mix, number 14, for his troubles." He grinned again, at the memory.

Both hands flew up to cover her mouth and stifle the uncounselorlike sound that threatened to fly out. She froze, cleared her throat, and regained her composure. "Yeessss, I am familiar with the Gorsky surprise, I have dealt with the fall out more than once." Unbidden a picture of Alex Gorsky covered in a myriad of colors sprung into her head. "I am…pleased that he has clearly met his match. He has untapped potential, simply has never had to use self restraint." A sly smile spread across her face. "I believe you are just the person he needs to teach it to him."

Harry came around to the front of the couch and collapsed onto the curved feminine piece of furniture. "Want to hear what'll happen next time he tries?" he asked, a wicked gleam sparking in his eyes as he leaned forward to explain his second line of defense.

Nodding in acknowledgement and mentally rubbing her hands in anticipation T'Shaini tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. And so it begins.

…anyway,” Harry continued the story, “That’s when Brainiac decides he’s going to make the process quicker by, get this, convincing Jarhead that he doesn’t need the belays… he can just jet from strip to strip…"

Unaccustomed to struggling to keep up with anyone T'Shaini frowned in concentration as she attempted to translate Harry's verbal shorthand. "Wait, Brainiac is Gorsky, and Jarhead is…Lottz? And who are," Catching herself. "What are the strips?"

“What? No…” Harry wondered just how inarticulate he must have been. “Nooo, Gorsky is Nerdbird… and we wouldn’t let him anywhere near the phaser array.. genius or not, wow, that’d be scary.” He realized that this hadn’t actually answered the Counselor’s question, “Brainiac is Brennek… but Jarhead is Anthony Trann, used to be a Marine, get it?” He watched, carefully, to see if comprehension was dawning, yet, or if midnight still reigned over the conversation.

Having thought that the word Jarhead had referred to the shape of someones skull T'Shaini felt herself blink several times as if that would clear the fog that his convoluted mode of speech had created in her head. She shifted her body to sit straighter as if that would affect her thought process and leaned in. "Brainiac is Brennek, Jarhead is Tran…which has to do with his previous assignment as a marine, not with the shape of his head. Gorsky is Nerdbird, I still have no idea what a strip refers to but I am surmising that Jessica Rabbit is Jess Hill."

There was something naggingly familiar about this conversation, but Harry couldn't quite put his finger on it. Still, "No, again. Jessica Rabbit is the sweetest TR-116 that I've ever handled. This baby can push out more rounds per minute than a class 17 nebula's got sirillium; she's got a grip that melds right to my shoulder - I mean, you could tango with this baby - she is…" again with the blank stare.. "really, a very nice weapon," he finished, somewhat flatly.

Resisting the urge to find a nice firm wall to pound her head against (It would probably be easier than this conversation) T'Shaini took a deep breath, started to re list every name that he had gone through in the last five minutes and then hesitated. "You name inanimate objects as well?"

Doesn't everybody? But seeing the small vertical line of tension developing between T'Shaini's brows, he thought better of mentioning it. Harry quickly began to rack his brain for anything he might say, any topic he might introduce to further fill the time left in his session. Anything that didn't have to do with sleep, his past, his future, his drinking (or lack thereof), his relationships (or lack thereof) or.. well, anything of any importance whatsoever.

His brain wasn't coming up with a viable response to this request.

It was amazing how she could watch an array of responses being filtered and discarded flash across his face before it stilled to a vague attempt at looking like he was politely waiting for her to speak next. mmph Opening her mouth to prod him further she was interrupted by the chime sounding the end of the session. Her mouth twisted into a wry smile. "Well, I will let you off the hook…this time."

Harry assembled his thoughts, donned his most innocent expression (which came off more as "who me?") and sprang up from the soft cushions of T'Shaini's couch. "Amazing how the time flies," like a glacier "Lieutenant," he nodded his farewell as he made for the doors at all possible speed. His escape was almost complete when…

"Oh, I would like to thank you, Samar Regan is due in later on this afternoon, and Borhn Jacobs will follow her early this evening. I see that you recommended them, I am grateful that you feel comfortable enough with my work to refer a colleague, or two."

Yeah, if ordering two feuding troublemakers to counseling vs. brig-time counts as a referral. Harry looked at the ship's lone stopgap against emotional chaos, "Well, if you'd read the report, you'd notice that Both Regan and Jacobs have now been responsible for no fewer than four violent outbreaks in various public areas of the ship, all arising from a mess hall revelation that, back in '71, Jacobs' second uncle twice-removed was helm on the Defiant when the Maquis hijacked the ship and that Regan's older sib was on one of the Cardassian outposts that got trashed…"

"Excuse me, I am unfamiliar with what…"

"… and of course, according to Jacobs, the Cardassians had it coming for messing with the DMZ and Regan's pissed about her dead sister and not about to let that go and now they're both enlisting the support of their friends…."

"I am unsure if this information was conveyed in the manner that…"

"Well, what manner would work for you, Wendy?" the now-irate officer growled, "Would it be better if the report included that we're getting into heavy revenge territory and next time they tangle there'll be blood and that will lead to charges and someone's gonna lose their career and even worse, the gangs they're building will keep the fires going and then the Hawking's gonna be the galaxy's biggest pressure cooker, one degree away from blowing." Finally, he ran out of words. Or breath. Or both.

Using the quiet of her voice to undercut his rage. "No Harry, I would prefer a manner in which the information was delivered to the intended recipiant." She stood back and folded her arms and waited for her words to penetrate the haze of anger surrounding him.

It was the look, more than anything, that pulled Finn out of his self-ignited ire. That cool, assessing, 'down boy' of doom was like a bucket of ice-water and he froze, mid-rant, and tilted his head curiously. "You… that is.. ah… you didn't get the report?"

"From you? No." She stepped over to her console to review." I have received a report from sickbay and from Katie about Three, but nothing from you. I should have time for a review directly before their appointments if you can forward the information to me as soon as possible."

Harry followed her to the desk, masking his embarrassment as well as he could, which wasn't very… well, that is. "I'll call it up for you," he offered, snaking one arm around the Counselor to tap in his personal codes which would pull up the file on Regan and Jacobs. "I'm… sorry." The words sounded like they'd been dragged through a field of cacti, they were so rough. He'd taken the last call on the whole, Montegue/Capulet situation at the end of a double following another sleepless night. He probably shouldn't have taken the shift but Peress was out with another frigging sprain and things were, as always, tight.

But that was an excuse and Harry had no patience for such things. "I really thought I'd sent this," he added as the data appeared in all it's luminescent splendor, "but, well… you're pretty much the best chance these two have of not getting drummed out of the 'Fleet so.." he backed away from the terminal, "I'll just, let you get to it." He stepped away from the desk as T'Shaini leaned over the report.

Throwing a look over her shoulder as he sped towards the exit. "Harry, as much as it pains you to be revealed as human, it is an excusable offense. Relax and let yourself off the hook every now and then." Trying not to smirk at the look he shot her at the word 'human' she settled down to read through the reports. He apologized… Having a flash to the glee with which Autumn had finished her first memory game. I wonder if this merits a victory dance, as well.

It's a WQnderful Life
Q-man Voices Wake Us?

Harry was… well, perplexed was probably the best way to put it. It was the middle of Alpha shift, the bar was closed, Sara was doing some mysterious maintenance-related activity with the folks in engineering and Alex was tinkering with the Still… still. Everyone had something to do but him and, while normally he might enjoy the down-time, he felt, very strongly, that there was somewhere he was supposed to be.

Giving in to the prodding unease, he left off pacing his quarters (only so much reward you can get from five steps each way) and took to the corridors. He didn't really pay any attention to where he was going but let his feet do the thinking.

T'Shaini came back to the present, unfolded her legs and stood, crossed to her seating area and straightened out the pillows. She surveyed the area and nodded to herself. Satisfied that all was in order she sat and folded her hands in her lap as if waiting for something. What am I doing?

When his legs finally stopped dictating, Harry looked up to find that he was standing in front of T'Shaini's quarters. Oookay Well, hell, why not? Maybe she'd be up for a game of… of… come to think of it, he didn't know if the taciturn Vulcan played games, of any sort. Still, he was here, may as well say hello. He bounced on his toes a couple of times before hitting the doorbell.

Standing at the sound of the door chime, T'Shaini frowned as she crossed to the doorway. She hesitated before signaling the door to open, I am not expecting anyone…am I? Lifting one shoulder in a slight shrug she let the door slide open to reveal…Harry…looking uncomfortable. She tipped her head to one side and waited.

Seeing the expectant look on his partner's face, Harry felt the weird tug of 'this is supposed to be happening' before he ducked his head uncertainly, "Ahh, hi," he greeted her, adding quickly, "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"

*Blinkblink* "No, I have nothing planned until this evening." She supposed she should be gracious and let him in, instead of making him rock back and forth on his feet in the corridor, but she was unaccustomed to him seeking her attention outside of work. "Oh, is something wrong? With Sweeney's, or Sara?"

"What? Oh.. no, no. Nothing's wrong… well," he shrugged, indicating their current berth on what was basically a pirate ship, "nothing's gotten worse." He stared at her for a moment, seeking in the calm features the reason for his coming to her but, for the life of him, he couldn't come up with anything. "So…" he said, faltering in the realization that, not only did he not belong here, but very likely Tee was getting annoyed by his continued, purposeless presence.

Putting one hand on the frame of the door unconsciously barring his presence she shook her head in confusion. "Well then…."

"Yeah," he agreed, ow, am I bleeding?, "so, I'll just…" he jerked his thumb down the corridor, "you know…"

"Yes, that would be good."

He stuffed his hands in his pockets, "Okay, so… I'll, ah…see you tonight…then." Awkward.

She looked pointedly down the corridor and back. "Yes, you will."

"Well, okay then," and, taking the brick-sized hint for what it was, Harry turned on his heel and made his way back up the corridor. Before he turned at the junction, however, he threw one last, uncertain glance over his shoulder. She was still at the door, looking after him. Probably wanted to make sure he didn't hang around, lower the property values. After a moment he gave up trying to understand and continued on his way to… anywhere but here, apparently.

Her brows knit in concentration as she watched him walk away. Something was off, something she could not quite put her finger on. Catching the last look Harry sent it was clear he felt it too. Hmmm. She turned back into her quarters and walked over to the couch, messed up the pillows, then sat down at her terminal to work.

Harry absently rubbed his sore knuckles as he manically wandered the office. Negotiating the furniture with practiced ease, he came to a stop at T’Shaini’s meditation corner and found himself staring at the bonsai he’d brought some weeks back. It showed a few faint signs of recovery and he ran a hand over the newly-blessed branches, almost jumping back when the tiny outcrop of needles dropped pathetically to the table.

“You and me both,” he muttered under his breath.

Deciding that if she waited until Harry settled to begin the session she would likely atrophy, T'Shaini looked over her shoulder, Oh no, not the bonsai. and attempted to get his attention. "If I may make an observation…" Not that he was likely to say no. "your energy is more…frenetic than usual. Is there something in particular going on, or just too much caffeine?"

Her voice shocked Harry out of the moment and he turned away from the re-denuded plant. "What?" Focus "No.. I mean, yeah, probably too much coffee." How much had he had, today? Gorsky had said something about that, too, before he'd left on his date…

"Why not try to sit down, it might be a novel experience." Even getting him to sit could be a chore, she had never seen anyone fight so hard against talking about themselves. Most, given undivided attention and a non judgmental ear, would pour out everything…not Harry.

"Fine," he snapped, crossing to the comfy chair but, no, still couldn't do it, and flung himself onto the couch, next to the counselor. He took a perverse pleasure in accidentally bumping her as he dropped. "Better?"

Having seen asteroids make more graceful entries into an atmosphere than his descent onto the couch, T'Shaini found herself bouncing in reaction. As she steadied herself she glanced down and registered the redness across the back of his hands. She reached out and lifted up one hand to observe. "How did this happen?" She raised one eyebrow. "I thought we discussed the 'no bar fights rule'."

"Ha, yes, very funny," he replied, automatically falling back on sarcasm to cover the reaction which violently assailed him as her fingers gently brushed the back of his hand. Bad on soooo many levels…. "Just forgot the gloves when I hit the gym… I mean, the heavy bag… at the gym…"

"Oh, the gym." She sighed. "You are far more diligent than I am, I must trick myself into going. Find things that I enjoy enough that it does not feel like exercise. Do you find that you enjoy your time at the gym?"

"Yeah, it's… great," giving up on any notions of appearing calm, he ripped the hand away and abruptly stood again but this time to put some distance between himself and the (let's admit it, folks) only being of the female persuasion he'd allowed any sort of contact with, and that only because it was on orders. Kerrin Schaeffer's face suddenly burst into his mind… and was just as suddenly shoved away.

Launch seems to be the word of the day. "What do you enjoy? There may be pleasure derived from a job well done, but everyone needs some leisure time. Something besides work, something, dare I say…fun."

"Not… everyone," was the carefully soft response.

"Yes, everyone." Such an awkward subject. "Harry, as much as your singlemindedness makes you very good at your job, at some point you must alleviate the pressure." She held up one hand. "Do not say you can handle it, if you were handling it, you would not have scraped knuckles or be pacing around my office like a caged tiger." Knowing to move off the couch would just make him run further, but needing to emphasize what she was saying with movement, T'Shaini moved to the end of the couch and sat on her knees to lean against the arm. "I am not suggesting that you throw away every sensibility and suddenly transform yourself to some frivolous….fop. Just perhaps, do something simply because it brings you pleasure. You do deserve some pleasure in life. You do."

The words, well-meant, were like a spark to dry kindling. "Oh, really, and you're…what, such an expert on what I deserve?" the words spat out as an unfocused surge of some unnamed emotion spun him away from those liquid brown (always brown) eyes, and released his fist into the nearest wall where it froze, along with the rest of him. Shit. Finn closed his eyes against his own stupidity and prayed for an end to what was rapidly becoming the session from hell.

"Harry…" She searched for words that would have a chance of penetrating that wall of self hatred he had constructed. "perhaps you are right, I am not an expert on what you deserve or do not deserve. I think that trying to decide what anyone deserves may be a larger issue than I would ever want to tackle, we can leave that to the philosophers and theologians. That being said, I do believe that you need to find some focus other than your job." She leaned further over the arm of the couch. "You are a healthy adult male, with the all of the biological drives that accompany that. Harry, what about sex?"

Dropping his head against the wall, he almost laughed. Yes, Harry, what about sex? He couldn't believe he was even hearing the words from the proper Vulcan though… he looked back and there was that selfsame proper Vulcan, leaning forward on the arm of her couch, all wide-eyed and concerned and so… and for just one moment there wasn't anything beyond that office and the two beings within… no Costala, no forbidden Kerrin, no crazed Acker watching and waiting for Harry to have just one thing to care about that could then be taken away… nothing.

"Why?" he asked, his voice hoarse as desperation and fury intermixed to the perfect cocktail of need, "are you offering?"


She flicked a glance to the chronometer. "Well, you do have two whole minutes left in your session…"

He didn't let her finish because, at that moment her eyes became a shade lighter and the light hitting her hair burnished it to a slightly coppery hue and Harry felt himself falling forward into a long, hopeless dive for what could never be regained and…

… hit the careful hand which, laying on his chest, halted the fall.

Everything stopped.

"Perhaps an attempt at humor was ill advised."

It was a long moment before he could trust himself to speak and, even then, he couldn't quite bring himself to look at her. "No," he finally said, pulling the words from a someplace far away, "no, you were fine… it's not…" He was, he realized, still too close, her hand still resting over his heart.

He stepped carefully away. "I'm sorry," he said to the air beyond T'Shaini's shoulder. "It wasn't you. I just," swallowing pride and reason he dragged his gaze back to her eyes, hoping, praying she'd understand, "I'm not a safe person to be close to so I… can't…" have what you have, the unsaid words hung in the air, another wall.

She could guide someone into emotional safety, but how do you assist someone with a tangible fear that his involvement with someone could result in the loss of her life. She had read his file, however heavily edited it was, it gave her enough to understand what he was referring to.

"Can you not feel safe here? On the Hawking? We are far from your past, on a mission that may take some time, perhaps you can entertain the possibility…"

"Sure," he jerked his eyes away, towards the door and the illusion of freedom, "you're right," a half-shrug, "I mean, assuming anyone'd be interested," and a small smile for good measure. "I'll take it under advisement… you know, keep my options open."

"Harry, I can tell when you are placating me. The session is not over yet and you cannot creep toward the door as of yet." How to reinforce the leap he had made in the session without letting him get away with the avoidance he was attempting at the moment. "I will not be divulging any secrets to let you know that your single status and the color of your eyes have been the subject of more than one session, so I do know for a fact that you have options. It is up to you to exercise those options. Or of course you could remain locked away in your own personal hell, but I would hope that having come this far, you would at least contemplate a further step."

"And if I say no?" he asked, oh so steady. "If I decide to stay in hell… are you going to Section 8 me for not getting myself a piece of a… action?" Not moving, now, he focused entirely on T'Shaini, "Or maybe I'm supposed to walk up to the first single woman I meet and give her a prescription from the ship's counselor.. how would that read, anyway? 'One bout of steaming sex, as needed, to prevent a Finnplosion?'" He found it was getting harder to breathe, the air crammed too full of promises and loss, "Do you really think it could ever be that easy?"

Her voice dropped to a whisper. "No Harry, I do not think it will be easy. I think it will likely be the most difficult thing you have ever attempted. Work comes easy for you, duty comes easy, it is who you are…what you allow yourself to be. It is the personal that is always the most difficult is it not? That does not mean that it should not be undertaken."

In the silence following that judgment, the chime which sounded each session's end pierced the air, even as T'Shaini's steady gaze pierced Harry's carefully maintained shields. Under that precise onslaught, he didn't hear the signal to freedom: all he heard was the pounding of his own heart beneath the subtle cracking of the wall which had, for so long, kept it, kept him, separate safe from everyone else.

Having put off Zero Hour as long as possible, Finn leaned on the door's chime and was promptly granted entrance but, when he stepped into the quiet office was surprised to find no one home. Had he gotten the day wrong? Then Harry's gaze dropped to the table and a PADD propped up against, ha, the tree. Retrieving the device, he noted that a few more needles were popping up. "Never say die, eh?" he asked the struggling plant before glancing down at the message onscreen.

Harry, I may be delayed as I must perform a series of evaluations for the school. Please make yourself comfortable and I will join you as soon as I may.

"Sweet!" burst out of his lips before he could think and then Harry shot a guilty look about the room, as if, somehow, the spirit of Wendy remained in the office at all times, monitoring any unguarded statements that might be uttered in the shrink's absence. Get a grip, Finn. He put the PADD back on the table and looked about the room, his eyes finally falling on the anathema comfy chair. The chair looked back. Harry considered… there was, after all, no one here to see…

"Bring it," he said. The chair, not surprisingly, did not respond.

T'Shaini took a moment to collect herself before opening the door to her office. It would not do to appear harried. Stepping into the room she was greeted with a sight that she would never have dreamed of in her wildest imagination. Not only was Harry sitting in the chair he had heretofore only eyed with suspicion…but was so relaxed that he had fallen asleep. Content to take her victories how and when they presented themselves, T'Shaini settled on the couch to await his awakening. So frequently you hear it said that while asleep whoever it may be 'looks like a child'. Not so in Harry's case at least. There was a softening, but no release. No surprise there. Interesting how even though the eyes were shut, there was a vibration around him…even in sleep the intensity remained.

There was no need to wake him, no appointment to follow, she knew well enough to leave time around his visits. When she created her schedule she made sure that her more…complex patients had a cushion around their time for her to decompress before speaking to anyone else. Watching him sleep she found memories filtering into her consciousness, ones from the here and now, and ones from a world that they never truly inhabited. Nevertheless they were there, and seemed to influence her perceptions about this man and what he meant to her. In one world, a client, someone she cared for in her line of work. In the other, the one person she trusted and the one person she cared for. Regardless of the fact that there were no actual events supporting these memories the residual effect of that non existence lingered on. The time allotted for Harry she spent sifting through those memories, letting some things slip away, some dim in importance and some she reserved as truth.

The chime signaling the end of the session sounded and T'Shaini lifted her gaze to see if the sound had the typical knee jerk effect of 'ESCAPE' that she was used to witnessing. Nothing. Interesting. She unfolded her legs and stood to see if movement would wake him. Apparently not. She saw a tremor ripple through his body, and then another. Her office temperature made it unlikely he would be shivering from cold. She stepped closer wondering if he was trapped in a nightmare… should I awaken him?

"Well, I hope you are finally satisfied…" Harry tried to hide from the cold voice of truth, dive further into the void but that was colder still and when he realized this, he was too deep… he'd gone too far and there could be no returning from the icy vacuum, the echo of his own soul. "You have a big empty space, Finn…" and it was devouring him.

She knelt down next to the chair where, if for nothing but the pallor of his skin, it became obvious that the trembling was due to some inner turmoil. Well, if it is not restful, then there is no reason I should leave him asleep. She reached out to touch the hand that was no longer resting on the arm of the chair but clutching at it, the tendons standing out, icy ridges of tension as his fingers dug into the fabric…

It was such a long way to fall and no way to measure and he knew knew knew this was all there would be, forever… "I'm closing the doors now, Finn…" molderingblankairlessnothing "Harry"… into the stillquiet something new, something… warm but not… not the sweltering decay pressing on him… a subtle liquid lure, a languid line wrapping round his hand and resisting the sucking draw of the stagnantemptyHarryHarryHarry….

"Harry…" His hand engulfed hers, tightening as if it were his only hope of safety. Automatically she held on, not knowing what he was experiencing but wanting him to feel the reassurance he was clearly seeking. "Harry…" He did not waken but seemed to spiral deeper into whatever gulf he was navigating. "Harry…"

He grasped the warmth, the call, the tether… don't let go, don't let go, don't…

"… let go…" his own voice, hollow and harsh snapped through his body, and Finn opened his eyes, expecting only more of the bleeding abyss but… he took a long, careful breath, unable to look at her, unwilling to see how much she'd seen.

"You were dreaming."

"Dreaming," he exhaled before carefully releasing her hand, "yes." Only then and only briefly, the span between heartbeats, did his eyes meet hers.

Leaning back to give him some distance. "Did you want to speak about it?"

He wanted to say something pithy and normal, something along the lines of 'Have you metme?' but he wasn't himself enough yet to go there.

Or maybe he was too much himself, "Not to you," he said, leaning forward, burying his head in his hands, all subtlety lost in the ink between life and death.

She controlled the urge to rock back on her heels as his words hit her. Realities collided and separated again as she reminded herself that this was not her friend refusing a confidence but a patient who was not yet ready for the next leap. "As you wish." She rose to her feet and crossed back to seat herself in her customary place as new uncertainty was eased by habit.

Looking up, he watched her retreat to her throne, her face impassive and felt himself helpless to bridge the new chasm that was cracking the air between them.

In the quiet room two mortals sat, lost in the wake of too many lives.

"I thought perhaps a change of scenery would be welcome. Computer run 3268." Suddenly a vista beyond the mind's ability to truly comprehend, in T'Shaini's opinion, opened up before them. "I once visited here while I was attending the academy. This is the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Even standing there I thought perhaps it was a holodeck program, it was too vast and majestic to be real." She stepped closer to the edge to peer down toward the Colorado River. "You can barely see it, but it is down there, and responsible for all of this. Amazing to think what one small thing can do to shape the world, given enough time."

"They had to dredge the river after the last global wars," Harry commented from where he stood, looking, well, not really looking at anything. "Dredge the river, bring in terraforming equipment to reconstruct some cliff faces… unless that's.. is that redundant? Terraforming Earth?" A small shrug, "Whatever… it's been rebuilt.. like nothing ever happened."

"I do not think that mars the beauty of the landscape, the sheer size, or the grandeur. I think it is perhaps all in what you wish to see." She walked over to a small outcropping of rock on the ledge and sat, disturbing a small lizard that skittered away as her foot brushed where he was concealed. "Something on this scale makes me question what is real and what is perceived," Her thoughts wound back to memories of a lifetime she had not lived. "and whether it matters how 'real' it is as long as we perceive it to be so."

"You know," Harry commented, hands stuffed in pockets, still looking anywhere but towards T'Shaini, "if you wanted to talk about Q, all you had to do was ask." Not that he'd any urge to discuss the matter.

T'Shaini looked over her shoulder with a grin. "Ah yes, because you respond so well to direct questions." She scooted around a bit so she could face him and drew her knees up under her chin. "I cannot say that Q was my particular aim this session, I was more interested in finding a fresh perspective and I had hoped this…" She gestured and one foot slipped a bit on the gravel. "would engender that.

"Deity on a crutch, could you look where you're sitting?" he stepped forward, grabbed her by the arm and hauled her up and away from the looming ledge behind, inadvertently trading places with her. "Or did you really want to take a short trip down a long…" then he recalled, vividly, that they were within a simulation on a holodeck on a starship, and it was highly unlikely that the counselor had been about to fall to her death. "Whatever," he turned away from her obvious amusement to look into the chasm, welcoming the stab of adrenaline that the apparent depth called up from within.

"Mesmerizing, is it not?"

Harry's shoulders hitched up a notch, instinctive response to attack. "Don't," he said, quietly.

I have to. She felt her chest tighten as she contemplated her next foray. "I need to, it will not go away."

"It?" he half-turned, not really looking at her, not really looking away from the gorge, "What the hell is 'it'?"

"The internal manifestation of what we are looking at. The empty space…" that is draining you of your will to live.

Empty space

Harry turned away from the canyon and the words which would haunt him forever. "Arch!" he called harshly, already walking past the startled Vulcan. When the doorway failed to appear he turned his eyes, finally, to his superior officer, "Where's the exit?" he demanded.

She looked across the chasm. "I am not sure Harry, perhaps it requires a leap of faith."

"Don't," he said again, "don't play me…"

When she turned back towards him, Harry had to look away, over her shoulder, to where the earth opened, seductive as a forbidden woman, ripe with the kind of promise a man could die for.

She winced at her obvious tactical error while feeling a tendril of hope spring from seeing him begin to strip himself bare. "I am sorry, I do not mean to 'play you', in a way I was being quite literal. A leap of faith…not in your intellect or your abilities, but in your emotion, which is a far riskier prospect."


She tipped her head to one side contemplating the complexity that was Harry Finn. "Ordinarily I would not find myself explaining a course of action in a session, however, I would not, in any stretch of the imagination, think of you as ordinary." She walked back to sit down and gestured for him to join her. "There are patterns we form, some are productive, others not so. Unless we work on breaking those patterns there is no chance for growth." She waited, hoping for a response.

Defeated, he moved closer to the the seated woman. "I don't believe you can break this pattern."

She wrinkled her nose and squinted up at him. "That sounds like a challenge Finn…"

At the unaccustomed note of frivolity from the Vulcan, something inside just… collapsed. Harry followed the sensation, crouching down to cover the wrenching cavity forming within.

"It's not a challenge," he said, when he could focus on something other than yawning chasm in his gut. "It's a pointless exercise." He whipped his eyes to her, before she could argue, "The pattern was made by Command when they set me up to catch a spook that someone in the 'Fleet didn't want caught. Then the Brotherhood set it in stone when they turned Sara," he stopped suddenly at that, guilt rising in his throat like bile.

"No," he admitted, finally, "that was on me. It was because I… because we… they took her and broke her and she gave them Acker." He held T'Shaini's eyes, now, wanting to make sure she understood exactly what he was saying. "To keep me alive, she gave them a traitor. She traded him for me and then she killed herself and everyone else and Command dropped the hammer on the only one left standing."

On the charge of Negligence, we find the defendant Guilty as Charged. On the charge of Fraternization, we find the defendant Guilty as Charged…

"And they were right to do it, too." He looked away, again, "But then Nechayev came, offered me the chance to make it right. Asked me to give what's left back to the 'Fleet." A hard offer from a hard woman. "And I said yes.

"So that's what I'll do. I'll give it all because, at the end of the day, that's my job."

"No. No, it is NOT your job." She exhaled a breath she had been holding watching Harry's anguish spill forth. "You may be expected to risk your life, but Harry, we are not talking about that. They took so much." She was unable to even comprehend how much. "The loss of Sara and your crew…has repercussions far greater than they could have even imagined. It is not solely about the job. They have stripped you of any feeling of safety, the ability to feel joy….they have stripped you of you. The numbness you seek, whether through alcohol or distance from others can never be anything but a temporary solution, followed by another temporary solution. Eventually something will slip, no one is infallible. And it is MY job to help you find the tools with which you can replace the numbness." She made a slight move toward him, then thought better of it. "More than that." T'Shaini looked at the ground, then with a wry smile looked up at Harry. "More than that, I like you. I suppose technically I am not supposed to tell you that, but I do. I like you. I would like to see you happy." She held up her hand to forestall him. "Oh I know, but what is life without something impossible to strive for."

Harry sat with a dusty fwumph and stared into the distance, "But that's the thing, Wendy" he said resignedly, "numbness… works for me." More than the revelation of being more than just a job to the Vulcan. That was as disturbing as it was welcome. Bad enough Gorsky had declared himself on Finn's team; how many more could he afford to care about? To worry over?

He shrugged the question aside, won't be an issue. "Numb is safe and uncomplicated and it lets me keep my focus. Numb is… something I can live with."

"But is that a life?"

"It's all I can afford."

T'Shaini put down the PADD she had on Harry Finn. Until he can feel complete trust in this relationship there can be no true forward momentum. There was only so much that could be done when you could watch the wheels turn every time she posed a question. Not that there had not been progress, there had, some of it due to the adversity that they had faced in the alternate existence…which led her to the coffin. Why would he be sleeping in the coffin? Could she even pose that question without him shutting down? The chime of the door signaling Harry's arrival interrupted her. "Enter."

The door whooshed open and Harry whooshed in, dropping the yo-yo down and up and down again as he entered. He'd taken to carrying the prop more often of late, due to the fact that the smaller crew members had begun stopping him in the corridor to ask for demonstrations or advice since his introduction of the toy.

"Hey, there, Wendy," he greeted, pulling the yo-yo up and palming it, for the moment.

Hmmm. In anyone else she would take such a jaunty entrance at face value. Not so with Harry. She was sure he had surprised even himself with the lengths he would go to in an attempt to coast through a session. It was always fascinating to observe the tactics he chose, illuminating as well. "Good afternoon, any particular reason the yo-yo will be joining us today?"

"It's been having mood swings," Harry quipped. "Actually, I've been giving lessons to Scout and some of the other kids. I think soon we may be ready for a group demo, as long as we can keep Nathreenial from expostulating on the sixteenth law of Thermodynamics long enough to actually play with the thing."

"Ahh, lovely…" Interesting. "I think that sounds like a great deal of fun." She crossed over to the chair, sat down, then smiled expectantly at Harry.

He shrugged, dropped the yo-yo again, focusing on its simple motions, "It can go one of two ways. One is fun.. the other is eight variously-aged spawn suffering from the overwhelming urge to one-up each other with a bunch of hard wooden discs," he threw the counselor a glance, "let me tell you, that Miller kid? His aim is a little dyslexic… almost hit me in the… well… he could use some practice." Looking down at his own rotating disc, "You talk to Fentis Choag, lately?"

Hmm, two in as many minutes…something must be going on. "Yes, I see him quite frequently. I try to spend as much time with the children who's parents were left on the Sentinel as I can." She shook her head sadly. "Poor Fentis has not been sleeping very well."

That was news to Harry, though it probably shouldn't be a surprise. "He's tough," he said, "but it's good you're checking up on the kid. I mean, it's good he knows people are looking out for him. Anyway." Up, down, up, down… he started to walk the space in time with the yo-yo.

Attempt number two. "He has a great deal of people looking out for him, you included. Katie has mentioned how much she appreciates the extra time you spend with them. You bring them escape, something that a counselor cannot do…at least in the short term. I do, however, find myself uniquely disposed to assist in the sleeplessness, having suffered from it myself."

"Let me guess, you meditate, right?" Up, down, up…

"Yes, but that is not the only method of dealing with it." Moving with a quickness that would surprise most she leaned over and snatched the yo-yo from his hand. "Thank you." She tucked her prize behind her and took advantage of the fact that she finally had his full attention. "Harry…I know you are not sleeping. The ship is rife with stories about the 'security guy who haunts the gym'. Why not just tell me?"

Shaking off the sting the ripped-away thread had left on his finger, Harry let out a small hiss. Et tu, scuttlebutt? "What's to tell?" he responded, moving away from Lightning Fingers McShaini. "I don't sleep well. Haven't in years. It's not a new issue it's just," his shoulders rose in a miniscule shrug, "the way things are."

"But it is not the way things have to be. I can speak from experience that you function at a higher level if you obtain at least a minimal amount of sleep. When was the last time you slept for more than 2 or 3 hours in a row?"

"Ahhh," Harry turned to look out the port, just in case that heat he felt on his face was a blush, "two shifts ago? Pretty sure.. like, five hours, give or take?" And it had been dreamless, too. Hours of oblivion and not a bottle in sight.

T'Shaini forced herself to not lean forward. "Why? There must have been a change in variables. What made the difference?"

One thing about being, in essence, a cop, you know when there's an interrogation going down. He leaned against the bulkhead, crossing his arms over his chest, "You wouldn't be asking that question if you didn't suspect something," he stated flatly. "Do you want me to go get a blood test, right now? Prove I haven't been hitting the sauce? Or would my word actually be good enough?"

"Oh Harry, I know you have not been drinking. Do you think I could not tell if you were? And truly, one thing I can rely on is, no matter how torturous it may be to get you to tell me anything, when you do…it will be the truth."

He just looked at her for a moment, deeply annoyed that she'd pulled out the honesty card. "Then what difference does it make?" he finally ventured. "If I manage to get the 'requisite' amount of sleep per cycle, who cares how I get there? Even without the requisite amount I've been doing fine so why is it even an issue?"

One eyebrow lifted to the ceiling. "Did you really ask a counselor why something is an issue?"

"Right. My bad. Please, let the grilling continue. I'm almost certain there are still some unburned areas…" his voice faltered.

Oh my. Her voice gentled, to take the edge from her reply akin to water flowing over stones. "Scraping you raw is not my purpose, but I do need to ask questions. If you do not sleep then that is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. And if you have found something to alleviate it, then we should explore the reasoning behind it."

"I found… a fine and private place," he said quietly, falling back on another's phrase.

She hoped that this was the crux of the issue. "Perhaps it is simply that then, should I request that you be moved? I can state that for medical reasons you need quarters of your own."

"What?!" Snapping back to the moment, he crossed back the counselor, "No! No. No medical… anything. I don't need any more pings in my record…" he raised his hands in frustration, "I just… okay, here's the thing… a couple of times, since we got back," and there are so many more reasons to not close my eyes "I've woken up… inside that casket." And that sounded even worse than he'd thought it ever could. "Not, like, lid closed, hands crossed over chest vampire inside…" he amended, quickly, "just, in it… where I'd been sleeping." Hmm, still didn't sound too good.

Ahhhhhh. "Do you not recall entering the coffin? Just waking there?"

No way out but through, "I remember… the first time, just staring at it," he said, "it was… I'd been tossing, gave up.. and I was staring at it and I remembered… something Q said," too much memory there. He started pacing again, "And then I was waking up and I was inside and it had been… hours. I don't remember climbing into it. I don't remember having any dreams. I was just there." He paused, realized he was staring at the tree. "The other time… I don't even know how I got there. I just did." Not looking up, not leaving the bonsai or its scraggly growth he asked, "How crazy does that make me?" and then, the thus-far unvoiced fear, "or is this just another addiction?"

"Does it feel like another addiction? It does not sound like it does to me. I do not think there is anything 'crazy' in what you have related. You found yourself asleep there…I would rather you not need to find solace in a coffin, but why not accept what we are given. Nothing happens at once. If sleeping there is what it takes for you to sleep right now, then you use it. Think of it less as an addiction, more as an aid. Can you perhaps think of sleep as the primary goal at the moment?" In a hope that it would lighten the moment she added. "I would rather you find yourself feeling akin to Dracula than MacBeth."

We still have judgement here he thought, "I feel akin to a puppet," he said.

"How so?"

"How not? Q; Command; Acker, hell, he might as well be mini-Q, the way he's working my strings…" ahhh, shit, quick, move on, "maybe the frigging coffin is the only place they can't touch me."

"Acker?" T'Shaini frowned. "How has he been 'working your strings'?"

"Wow, will you look at the time. How about we table this discussion for a while?" Like, forever? "I'll use the coffin, as needed and we can…can…" he sighed, giving up, "Look, I shouldn't have said anything about that. Can you, maybe, forget I ever mentioned his name to you?"

"You know nothing said in this room would ever be repeated."

"That's not the issue," he told her. "This goes beyond emotional security all the way up to Federation Security and, yes, I know how that sounds but it's true and frankly, Lieutenant, you just don't have the appropriate clearances for me to share."

"Very well…" Not much she could say to that. Odd that he had spoken as if it were a current occurrence and not one past. "Do you need to inform the Captain of anything?"

"Been trying," and that set off another round of the office, "Enneking won't set it up, thinks I'm hallucinating, or trying to cover up mistakes or… worse…"

"Would you like me to contact him and arrange a meeting?"

"I'm sorry? I mean… you could?" Because, if anything else went haywire, he really wanted to be sure the command staff understood, as much as they could, what they were dealing with. Didn't necessarily ease his own responsibility, bringing the demon on board with him but still… "I'd appreciate that. Very much."

T'Shaini nodded crisply. "Consider it done."

"Now, you see?" Harry almost beamed, "I feel we've made some progress, today, don't you?" He leaned over the still-seated counselor, "So, can I have my yo-yo back?"


It had become routine by now: the pre-session jitters, followed by a shot of ire at the enforced weekly examination of his… what? Emotions? Motivations? Hells, he didn't even know why he was being probed. All Harry knew was that it made him feel… helpless. Stripped and alone and open for anyone to see just how little was left of him. Come and see the hollow man.

As he approached the Counselor's office, he downed the chaser of guilt that always finished the aperitif. Wendy, well, as much as he trusted anyone, he trusted her. Didn't mean he'd willingly lay himself out for her perusal… that was… well, he just couldn't. Still, it wouldn't last much longer. Three months had been prescribed and damn near three months it had been.

The door slid open at his request and, holding fast to the promise of freedom, Finn put on his best 'cooperative' face and walked in.

T'Shaini looked up from her PADD at Harry's entrance. Raising one eyebrow at the apparent ease of manner she gestured for him to sit, if only to see how far the facade of comfort would extend.

He looked at the inevitable indication towards the couch… what was with her and the sitting, anyway? Have you met me? Still, could it hurt to humor the woman? He shrugged, walked over to the couch, aaannnnd made a sharp left to go lean on his favorite wall.

A slight crinkling around the eyes was the only thing that betrayed her amusement. "So Harry, what is new?"

"Well, interestingly, I suddenly find myself engaged to train someone in self-defense.. oh, but you know that," he mirrored her raised brow. "In the real news, I finally got the graveyard's blackout curtains up. It's verrryyy spooky. And Doctor Schaeffer brought some fairly horrific props by, this morning." And I've convinced the command staff to help me look for a ghost but, can't say that… "I think those are the highlights. Everything else is just work, waiting for the other cosmic shoe to fall on our collective heads… the usual."

He was so very hard to read. As closely as she observed she could not detect any of the emotions behind anything that he said, and since he was rarely willing to tell her anything at all she needed to rely on what she could glean from physical cues. Which was a serious issue. "I see that our next session brings us to the end of the three month mandatory counseling recommended. I would like to discuss that today if you do not mind?"

"It's your office," Harry nodded towards the door, "says so on the plaque."

"Indeed it does, I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter."

He crossed his arms over his chest, "Probably, you don't," he warned, "but since you ask, 'Yippee' springs to mind, followed by, 'Hooray' and lastly, 'Sorry I was such a pain in the ass most of the time'," he looked away, "I appreciate that you were trying to help."

"Now, granted the three month counseling period is technically under my discretion. However, I would not make you extend anything you did not think was of benefit to you. Do you have any thoughts about what you had wanted to accomplish…I know, technically it was Starfleet that ordered you here. But if you have no opinions on this one way or another it is a sign that little was accomplished."

"Of course I have an opinion," he replied, the voice of reason, "my opinion is that, over the past three months I've proven I could do the job I was assigned without taking a drink." Well, there had been the one swallow from the rigged replicator, and then that time in the Qniverse but he'd paid for that, in spades. Harry flung himself off the wall and began to pace the room. "Which is, basically, all I thought needed to be accomplished. It's all I ever cared about and I'm pretty sure it's all they care about at Command."

"Was the drinking truly the issue? Or is it the symptom of something else?"

He froze, the sense of exposure suddenly overwhelming. "It became the issue," he said coldly, "after the Maru," after they all died, "after the Discharge; it became the issue. And now it's not."

"Because you have found another way to deaden the pain." She saw the crack in the armor and tried to pry it open, because it was time, far past time, truth to be told. "Harry, you have never had the behavioral characteristics of an alcoholic, it was never the issue. And you have not processed the pain, merely found a way to cover it and pretend it is not there so that you can function with some degree of normalcy. That does not mean it will go away on its own. Do you really want to hazard what you have, knowing that at any moment the scab that has formed over it may break?"

"Processed the pain?" Finn rounded on the Counselor, "What kind of… who thinks like that? In cold hard reality, who even cares? If I can function with 'some degree of normalcy' then I'm doing better than half this crew." He strode away, ran into some wall, turned and walked back, "And, for the record, there is no scab. There never was." He was feeling almost breathless, "There never will be."

"Do you think if you continue to feel pain it is some form of retribution?"

"Yes!" Shit!

"What purpose does that serve?" She could almost feel the waves of self-revulsion crash over her, it was enough to make her ill, but as he had a job to do, so did she. "Will your self-imposed punishment bring them back? We know this is not the case. Will it allow you to apprehend Acker? Again, no. [i]Could[/i] it become so overwhelming that it interferes with 'the job'. Yes. No one is unbreakable, so yes. Are you willing to risk that?"

"The purpose it serves is that it IS the purpose," he snapped, "It's not punishment. It's just a way of feeling something which is better than feeling nothing so I can keep breathing… and I have to keep breathing so I can find him," faced with a fury so intense it made his head spin, Harry felt himself sink to the couch, "So I can find all of them," he heard himself saying and he wanted to halt the words but it didn't feel like he was in control, anymore. "When I've done that… when I've taken them down, then I can stop. I'll be able to stop."

"Stop what?" The words dropped, rainfall on the leaf of silence.

Into the further stillness, "Everything." Another small eternity, "But you already knew that."

"Oh Harry." A simple exhale conveyed the depth of her insight. "What is next?"

Eyes on the carpet, he shook his head, lost, "I don't know," he said, "Nothing's changed, has it? Nothing except that I know that you know," he almost smiled at that. Almost. "What I don't know is if that means you're going to get in the way of what I have to do." It took real effort, but he once again dragged his eyes up to meet hers, "If you are… if I lose that… I may as well be dead, already."

"No, it means I want to help you be strong enough to not only do what you need to do, but survive it."

"Yeah, well, good luck with that."

"I do not need luck. All I need is your assistance."

He looked to the ceiling, sighed, "Translated, that just means more counseling, doesn't it?" Crap. Then he did smile, glancing back at Wendy, "Unless… you'd care to make it more interesting?" When she looked confused he felt the smile growing, "I'm willing to bet you, and you can name the stakes, that in the next three months, you can't change my mind." What the hell, it was pretty much a win/win for him, right?

Unconventional patients call for unconventional methods. "Done."

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