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  Lieutenant Zachary Zuniga & Commander Stacey Harris, SD
It’s Getting Hotter by the Minute DL: Commander Stacey “Bones” Harris and Co-Chief Counselor Zachary Zuniga

It's Getting Hotter by the Minute

DL: Commander Stacey “Bones” Harris and Co-Chief Counselor Zachary Zuniga

NOTE: Following in the tradition of Star Trek's creator Gene Roddenberry, who often utilized the show's story lines to reflect upon and explore “real world” issues, this log deals with a serious  situation which people may find themselves in and struggling with in this day and age. We have done our best to treat this topic with honesty, compassion and sensitivity. Reader discretion is advised.

(These events take place the day after “After the Fall”.)

Dr. Stacey Bones Harris walked into Zach Zuniga's office. He was bending over a plant in the corner, probably watering it, but also talking to it, it seemed.

Bones grinned, “Are you talking to that inanimate plant? Right, but I'm the one that needs a shrink.”  

He returned her smile and came to sit behind his desk.

She crossed her arms and stood in front of it. “Well, this is turning into a routine occurrence,” she stated, hesitating a minute, but then she sat down. “At any rate, I promised a friend I'd come in...but, it was my choice. I actually agreed that it might be a good idea this time.” She smirked, “Aren't you proud that I've reached this level of maturity finally that I come in without a direct order to do so?”

Zach replied to the doctor's attempt to gloss over recent events.  "I may talk to my plants but you must be sore from stretching so far to pat yourself on the back.  Would you like me to get you some liniment with your coffee?" He went to the replicator. "So, you've recovered from the flu and Commander Lobren suggested you and I have a little chat about your... immune system."

He placed two mugs of hot black coffee on his desk and sat on the edge.

Bones frowned. Ok so he wasn't going to make this as easy as she hoped. She took the coffee. “I never said it was Lobren, by the way.”

"YOU didn't have to say.  Mara didn't have to say. Even Lobren didn't have to say a thing.  You don't want anyone to tell you how to handle your life but you're doing a piss-poor job of it.  So, sit here, behind a locked door, off the record, just between us, talk to me doctor."

Bones raised her eyebrows at his bluntness. She sipped at her coffee. “Well, I'll admit that I've had some challenges of late, but I don't know if I'd say piss-poor. That seems a little extreme.”

"You think?  I don't. Look, I despise having to play bad counselor, but I'm this close."  He squeezed his thumb and forefinger together. "To calling Captain Holden and relieving you from duty.  I thought you and I were on the same page after our last session but you proved me wrong."

Bones started getting defensive, “I'm getting the distinct impression that you don't believe I had the flu. Whether it was that or something else is besides the point. You're supposed to be on my side and helpful, not accusatory. How the hell do you even know what happened?? Who have you been talking to? These sessions are supposed to be private!!”

"Good, get mad, at me. Scream, cry, anything.  And no, one had to say a thing, no confidences were breached, I wouldn't do that to you. But I do have to be sure that those in my care have their heads on straight."

Bones stood up, “Just who in the hell do you think you are? I'm so damn sick of people talking down to me, and treating me like a child. This is bull crap. I don't have to take it. Not from you, the captain, Commander Lobren, Joshua....you can all go to hell. Once you've spent one day in my shoes and all climb off your damn High horses, then we can talk. Until then, everyone can just screw off!” She turned to leave.

"Stop." Zach said softly. "I'm not trying to talk down to you but I am trying to get through your formidable defenses and bias against being counseled.  You may not want to be here Dr. Harris but the fact is, you need to be. I may hate it but I've got to be tough to make sure you actually hear what I'm saying. "So sit please."   His voice was calm and even. "And listen."

Bones took a deep breath and reluctantly sat back down.

"Sometimes it seems like the only way to get your attention is to be loud and obnoxious, but I should know better.  Please accept my apology so we can start over."

Bones grunted a little. Zach took that as an acquiescence of sorts.

"Dr Harris, you are a genius and beyond compare as a doctor, furthermore, you are one of, if not the most, charismatic member of this crew.  I'm willing to risk saying that for the most part, you probably feel that these are just a natural part of who you are."

Bones crossed her arms, she was shaking and sweating a little, “I'm waiting for a …˜but'...”

He noticed her physical reaction but didn't voice his assessment, instead he continued.

"Again, this is a bit risky to venture a guess about, but I have read your entire medical history,  It seems that motherhood isn't a role in which you would lay claim to expertise."

Bones nodded, “Uh huh.”

"Being a forty-three year old mother to twin preemies has to rank up there on the scale of stressful life events." He paused, but resumed quickly -- fast enough to prevent her from breaking in. "After all, even though it is done by numerous species every second of everyday, caring for babies and raising kids still manages to be an inexact science, "  He shifted somewhat uncomfortably in his seat. "Perhaps more so for a preeminent scientist and doctor who has dedicated her career to being a Starfleet CMO."

Bones chuckled humorlessly, stood up and started pacing. "If only it were that simple, counselor, or that harmless..." She trailed off and was obviously trying to decide if she was going to confide what she was about to...but she came here for a reason, and that was because she knew that she needed to stop this before it got even more out-of-control, and before someone got hurt, and before she did absolute irreparable damage to her already-suffering career. She almost told Lobren last night, but she couldn't do that to him, couldn't put him in that position. She took a deep breath. Zach Zuniga was a counselor, and had taken an oath that this was confidential, so it was her best outlet to turn to. She shakily put a hand in her pocket and pulled out a small cylindrical metal tube that was almost empty. She plopped it on his desk. "That's Felicium. You may have heard of it."

Zach's jaw dropped, briefly.  He had indeed heard of the Brekkan narcotic but in his knowledge, it was quite uncommon to be found in use by humans. Instead of risking having Bones lose her nerve, in lieu of interjecting a comment, he merely nodded.

She resumed her pacing, there was no going back now. "Dr. Greene gave me a couple of small doses a few weeks ago when the twins were born to boost my immune system. I, uh....I've been taking it ever since. More and more. I tried...I tried to quit a couple of nights ago, but that didn't go so well. I thought that maybe if I replaced it with alcohol, it would be easier, less withdrawal...but it didn't work. I ended up taking them both. I'm shocked as hell that Mara and Temple didn't do a narcotics test, but thank heavens for small favors, I guess. I wouldn't want them involved."  

She wiped some sweat off her brow here and stole a look at Zach, who seemed to be in shock. "Listen, I was going to try to synthesize something to help get off of it, but with only 3 hours a day in sickbay and all eyes on me, that's been hard to do." She started wringing her hands, "I never saw any patients on my shortened-sickbay days. I just read results and did paperwork, and cleaned up, and hid in my office- you can be sure of that." She scrubbed at her hair and turned to look at him, "if anyone finds out about this before I can kick it and get it under control- I lose my job." She turned away as a tear tracked down her cheek, "I need help."

The counselor did his best to keep his voice professionally non-judgemental and calm.  "You're in the right place in more than one way." He told her. "Let's go talk to some plants.” He stood and the door behind his desk opened, he moved aside to allow her to move through the portal first. A strong earthy petrichor met her nostrils as she approached.

"Welcome to my world Dr. Harris."

On the other side of the door was an immense space lit seemingly with the light of an alien sun and teeming abundantly with all manner of unusual flora, from long ropes of red and black vines, to tall aqua stalks topped by a darker teal orbs, to a low orange hued ground cover, and even some green shrubs with frilly fronds and leafy plants that were almost familiar looking but were still foreign.

Bones wiped her eyes and nose, “Oh my God. How did you keep this little secret? It's beautiful.”

"Thank you.  Not secret, just mostly unvisited and forgotten. This, as you might recall, is my attempt to recreate the Rihannsu planet's biosphere.  It's not this part of my domain that you and I may find useful. Follow me please."

He led the way to a conventionally lit and extremely well appointed science lab.

Bones followed him, half thinking she was in a narcotic hallucination.

The laboratory looked a lot like one of the science labs in sickbay.  There was a computer, a tri-laser-lensed microscope with an automatic slide changer, several tricorders, a full array of scanning devices, an incubator, an automatic tub-handler, a DNA sequencing unit as well as an assortment of standard lab items like petri dishes, micro-tubes and more.

"Everything a scientist, or a doctor could want for nurturing delicate species of alien plants or for researching and synthesizing a cure for what ails ya."  He had said that before he realized his casual tone might sound like he was making light of her plight. "Sorry, I know this is going to be difficult and tricky but you can work here and detox here with the least number of people knowing what's going on.  How we are going to manage this and who needs to know, well...you'll have to work that out."

Bones nodded with wide eyes, “Wow.” She looked at Zach. “You know, you're not half as stuffy as I always thought you were. I think we just became best friends.”

She walked over to the computer, Petri dish, and test tubes. She clapped her hands together. “Ok, I think I can come up with something to help detox. Will probably take me a few hours. That will at least make the next 24-48 hours bearable albeit unpleasant.”

She held up her shaking hands and frowned, “But I need a clear head and steady hands - neither of which I have right now.” She looked at him, “You're not going to like this...but I think I should take that last dose. The one that's in the tube back on your desk. Then I can do this. I promise. That will be the last one.”

Zach heaved a sigh.  "Won't your results be far more accurate if you are able to use the Felicium in your research?  I can provide the steady hands and with tri-ox and a microdose of cordrazine we can stabilize you for the length of time you need to get the job done."

Bones frowned, "Yeah, I knew you would say that. I'm glad you don't have any plans for the next 24 hours. I think we need Ens. Varok too. Can you make that happen?"

"I can.  But I'd rather not get anyone else involved with this endeavor.  Would Mara be of any help? I figure she already knows most of what's going on and you know, in for a penny, in for a pound.  We can keep up the mysterious flu cover story. You can be recovered and immune but you gave the flu to Mara and she to me. That way it makes sense for us all to be down here in quarantine. As it is, we have to hope that no one digs too deep because this has the potential to get messy fast."

Bones nodded her head vigorously, “Yeah. Good idea. Her lab skills aren't quite up to his, but this isn't going to be hard. Agreed. Man, I really appreciate this. God, it's hot in here. Is it hot in here to you?”

“Yeah, it's hot. Computer drop the temperature in the lab room two degrees centigrade.”  He looked at Bones. “Let's get started. I think it's going to get hotter in here by the minute.”

TBC in sim.

(If you, or your loved ones need help for a substance abuse or mental health problem, SAMHSA's National Helpline …“ 1-800-662-HELP (4357) provides referrals and other assistance in the U.S..)

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