USS Adelphi


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Post 6 - The Boy He'd Been

Posted on Mon Sep 28th, 2020 @ 11:05pm by Ensign Sheldon Parsons & Lieutenant Nico Oliveria

Mission: Episode 2 - The Next Phage
Location: USS-Adelphi, Main Engineering
Timeline: Immediately following Epilogue 1: Post 16 - Part and Parsons

[Main Engineering]
[Immediately following Epilogue 1: Post 16 - Part and Parsons]

The lift slowed to a halt, the Chief Engineer coming into view as it did so. The young man — not that much older than Parsons himself — seemed to be embroiled in a diagnostic effort, just as Mulhern had advised down below. For the moment, at least, Oliveria also seemed to be alone. Hobbling forward off the lift, Parsons took things step-by-step with the assistance of his recently replicated cane, courtesy of Doctor t'Nai. Step, thud, step, thud…the sounds brought Sheldon ever closer to the man he'd braved his pain to come see.

"Chief Oliveria," Parsons spoke up, a dangerous edge — like the glint of a distant phaser rifle's scope — coloring his voice, "do you have a few moments? Our counseling staff," the words sounded snide, "have recommended that I come speak to you. If now isn't a good time, I can always painfully hobble my way back to you later." Cold, dark, and unwavering eye contact had replaced the awkward please-please-don't-look-at-me lack of such the young man had previously been known for.

Nico jumped at Parsons's sudden appearance and spun around to face the injured engineer. He pulled his mouth into a cheek in confusion as the icy tone from the typically awkward engineer. Though the Chief Engineer had tried to visit Parsons a few times, he'd been turned away after he visited on the first day, figuring it was just part of the other man's grieving process, "Hey Sheldon, sure we can talk." He closed his scanner and stepped forward.

Good, Parsons thought to himself, enjoying the sight of Oliveria startling at his presence. His face a hardly neutral mask, the younger engineer hobbled forward to meet the Chief halfway to the diagnostic console. "I was curious how it feels, Chief?" When Oliveria seemed confused about the question, Parsons was only too happy to clarify. "You know, to be standing so close to where they died?" He pointed past the console and, with two conjoined fingers, took turns indicating the three different spots where the lifeless bodies of Mickens, Jahayney, Kk'gloron, Yerin, and Bess had been found. "I guess I'm just curious how you can stand there, happily running your little diagnostic and thinking about date night when five of your people suffocated from burning coolant in their lungs."

Sighing, Nico leaned against the railing and shuddered. He felt the grief try to overwhelm him and pushed it back into its box. The Vegan excelled at compartmentalizing the negative memories, something he picked up after his parent's death, "It feels terrible, Sheldon, but what choice do I have? The diagnostic won't run itself, and better me than one of them." He pointed down toward the crew on the first level looking at the other engineer pensively. Nico had keyed into the bit about his date the previous night. Only Nico and Timmoz hadn't gone out; instead, the Orion stopped by the Human's quarters for a couple of hours before the overnight shift. Still, the way Parson's had stated his accusation, the Chief Engineer was sure he did know Timmoz had been in his quarters, "Sheldon, are you following me or Lt. Timmoz?"

"Following you? No," Sheldon shook his head quickly and dismissively. "But I see things. Other people," his eyes flicked down to the other engineers below, "see things." The young man's gaze returned to Oliveria, growing even harder than before. "It's not exactly a secret. Never has been, really," his tone was flippant. "You're right, though...someone does need to run the diagnostic. Nice of you to spare them the pain. I guess it just makes me wonder..." he trailed off, leaning heavily on his cane as Parsons regarded the Chief, "why you couldn't spare me pain, too? You could have sealed the compartment yourself. You made the choice to let those people die. The least you could do is kill them yourself."

"I would have spared you this if I could have Sheldon," Nico wasn't sure he bought the other engineer's story, but he was in pain, and Nico would do whatever he could. He tucked his mouth into a cheek, collecting himself, "Sheldon, I gave you the order because I couldn't do two things at once. I didn't want to, and I'm sorry I had to, but you don't have the command authorization to shut down the warp core." The Vegan slumped against the rain and hung his head, "You got a raw deal, and I'm sorry. I knew I didn't have time to do both, and you were the first engineer I saw. I hate what I had to do, what I had to make you do, and I would change it if I could, but I can't."

Parsons regarded the Chief Engineer for several long moments after Nico finished speaking, his gaze hard and intractable. Like slow rivulets of snow-melt carving a new shape in the ice beneath, the younger engineer's face slowly began to change as his thoughts played out in his mind. "Well at least you apologized. I guess that's something," Sheldon lamented glumly, eyes again drifting down to the other engineers working below. "Some of them blame me. Did you know that?" he asked, looking up at Oliveria again through the veil of moisture welling in the corners of his eyes.

"All I wanted was to show people that, no matter how awkward and bumbling I am most of the time," Parsons shook his head slowly, "I am worth a damn. But now," he shrugged lightly, his eyes fashioning themselves into daggers pointed down at his peers, "it doesn't matter anymore. I'm just the guy who killed their friends." Tears slid down his cheeks, catching the blue luminescence of the warp core in their shining, shifting paths. The drops left dark splotches on his corded sweater as Parsons reached up to wipe at his eyes. "How do you live with something like that, Chief?" he asked, earnestly searching Oliveria's face for answers.

"Sheldon," the Vegan sighed and reached forward to place a hand on the engineer's shoulder. "They don't really blame you. Everyone deals with loss differently, and they are just working through it. Trust me. They will come around." Nico gave the other man's shoulder a gentle squeeze, "As for the living with it. I'm told it will get easier with time, but we are both going to have to get through this, and I'm sure we will." He pushed his lips together, shaking his head, "I don't do well with grief, don't let the fact that I was in a good mood dissuade you from that. I tend not to deal with it at all, and the counselors don't really like that, but I push it into a corner and lock it away." He paused, looking passed Sheldon, and whispered, "Where it can't hurt me."

He brought his gaze back to the troubled engineer and cleared his throat, "We are going to get through this Sheldon, together."

Parsons looked down at the hand on his shoulder, his first thought to violently shove it aside. How dare Oliveria touch him?! How dare he assume to know how he felt? The anger welled inside, threatening to boil over from his eyes as the engineer regarded his Chief and mentor. But the more he thought about the older man's words, the more that desire to shove the Chief away ebbed. Perhaps there was some wisdom in what Oliveria was saying...

Lock it in a corner where it can't hurt me... the younger man repeated in his head, wondering if that might not be the better approach after all. "The counselors have been telling me I need to deal with my emotions. With my...grief," Parsons' mouth formed a half sneer around the word. "But I don't want to feel those things," he shook his head, another couple of tears falling to temporarily stain his sweater. "If it helps you, maybe that can help me, too," he debated aloud, some degree of hope glinting in his voice as his eyes again cast themselves to those working below. In direct defiance of what the ship's counseling staff had been telling him, Parsons -- in that very moment -- began to wall himself off from the pain he was feeling.

"If I can't feel it, then I don't need to agonize over getting through it," he sounded out to himself distantly, thoughts far away. Were an empath there, they might sense the young man's closing off from himself -- sense him leaving behind his sadness and, instead, grasp for the hardness of his anger to steel himself against his own thoughts. "Thanks, Chief. I'm glad I don't have to do what the counselors are telling me to," the young Ensign looked up at Oliveria, seeming genuinely grateful for the advice. "I should probably let you get back to your diagnostic. Thanks for talking to me, Chief."

Without giving Oliveria a chance to reply, Parsons turned and, with the assistance of his cane, hobbled a couple of steps back into the lift. He did not turn back to face forward in the lift as was customary. Instead, he could be seen reaching up to his rub his eyes as the elevator descended, drying them with the collar of his sweater. Reaching the lower floor, Parsons then slowly made his way out of the engine room, offering Shiela an apologetic look as he passed.

What she couldn't know then -- glumly watching him leave -- was that Parsons had just chosen to wholly abandon the sweet, awkward boy he'd been. Choosing to follow the Chief's example instead, pushing everything away where it couldn't harm him, Parsons had just taken a dangerous step away from his own healing -- a step away from himself.

Stepping into the corridor beyond Engineering, Sheldon Parsons continued forward in a direction that would never lead him back to the man he could have been. But at least this new Parsons wouldn't be a baby about life's cruelties anymore...even if it meant becoming all the more cruel himself in the process.

=/\= A post by... =/\=

Ensign Sheldon Parsons
Engineering Officer


Lieutenant Nico Oliveria
Chief Engineer


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