Back on the Couch
Mission: Special Delivery
Patricia entered the counseling office. "Who the hell would have thought I'd have missed this place?"
Millie smiled, standing from her desk and setting her mug of tea on the small table next to the chairs. "Who would have thought I'd miss having you as a roommate?" She caught the woman in a solid hug. "You are looking good." She took a step back to get a look at Patricia. "And it looks like Chance is making sure you get back to a healthy weight, da?" She smiled again, but there was a hint of lingering sadness in her expression this time.
"Please, I need to get back on a diet." Patricia took a seat running her fingers through her newly fashioned blonde locks. "And how's things with the engineer?"
Millie gave a quiet sigh and shrugged. "When you start a relationship and then go off the grid, it..." She shrugged. "It's rocky. And I might have made it worse over leave." She gestured to the chairs. "But we're not here for my counseling session."
"You want me to twist her arm? Figuratively...or...literally, whatever is called for."
"Please don't break her." Millie slipped into one of the chairs, kicking off her shoes and tucking both legs under her. "Honestly, it was my fault, and I didn't communicate well. If anyone deserves the punishment, it's me. But I would guess that your husband doesn't want to see a broken bone again anytime soon." She picked up her mug of tea, making the you want one? gesture.
Patricia nodded at the tea. "So where do I begin? House, citizenship, semi-retirement, or baby?"
Millie almost dropped her own mug as she stood up. "Wow! You've had quite the busy shore leave, but...I thought that you--"
"You told me before that you couldn't have children." Millie poured hot water from the kettle on her desk into a second mug. "Have you two been talking about adoption?"
"There is a doctor I've been reading up on who has worked on a procedure to reverse situations like mine. If it works we could have a child naturally."
Millie's brow furrowed. "Trish, you're missing your entire reproductive system. You can't reverse that."
"This guy has shown some promising results in his research. Nothing is certain but I'm willing to take the opportunity. If I have learned anything from what we went through it's that miracles happen."
Millie gave a quiet nod as she passed the mug of tea to her friend. "The act of replacing your entire reproductive system seems like it would be a--rather extensive and invasive procedure." It was hard to hide the concern knitted on her brow.
Patricia took the tea and leaned back. "I think that's been Chance's unsaid concern too. We've lightly talked about all this but haven't looked too deep into it yet or talked to this guy." She took a brief sip to test the temperature. "You'll be happy to know the old lady is planted in my front yard now."
"The elder?" Millie's expression changed, though the new expression was hard to translate. "I think she would have liked that."
"Every morning I'd sit on the front porch as the sun rose and watch that tree...judging me." She took another sip. "Believe me. that old woman knew what she was doing. She wanted to curse me."
Millie reached out and placed a hand on Patricia's arm. "I think she was one of the warriors in her younger years, and I'm not sure if you noticed, but most of the trained warriors were the men. There were not many women who were already trained." She gave a gentle smile. "I watched her watch you from the very beginning. I think that if we had spoken the same language, the two of you would have been able to share a lot of stories."
Patricia gave a shrug suggesting an unspoken 'maybe' before she changed the subject. "I also took the time to file an official name change and I'm no longer taking off-ship work for non-ship reasons. So no more long vacations for us."
Millie nodded once more. "You've made a lot of changes since we came back."
"I had to re-evaluate everything. What are my priorities? I'm good at what I do....what I did, but is it worth losing my husband and son? Is it worth almost getting you killed? My focus is on protecting our village here, so to speak."
"I think about that a lot." Millie took a sip of her own tea, cradling the warm mug in her hands. "I wonder what would have happened if you'd gone off on that mission alone. The old Banks I met several years ago probably would have." She gave a soft chuckle. "I remember you yelling at me the first time you thought I put myself in danger. A lot has changed since then...with both of us."
"If I'd gone alone I'd be dead. You got me out of that shuttle and saved my life."
"I...still have nightmares about the crash." Millie closed her eyes for a moment, as if willing the image out of her mind. She let out a breath and opened her eyes again. "They have me in counseling, too." Her fingers played along the surface of her mug. "Henry isn't happy with my debriefing. He thinks I left a lot of information out of my report."
"You should have heard him with me. But I told him everything he needed to know and nothing 'they' didn't. He'll get over it. And counseling for you is good. You gotta have someone to talk to who can be objective." Patricia finished the tea and set the cup down. "There's one thing that still puzzles me though. How did they figure out where we were? Chance always dodges this when I bring it up."
Millie chuckled softly. "You promise you won't kill her?"
Patricia slowly raised a brow. "She hacked me, didn't she?"
"And if she didn't, I probably would have died slowly of radiation poisoning within a year, according to Dr. Melanick." Millie paused. "Please don't kill her before I have a chance to try to smooth things over?"
Patricia sighed, "Fine. But you ought to try and make things better with her. Both of them came a long way to bring us home I think for the same reason."
Millie nodded. "I know, and I totally screwed things up. I was hoping that she would come to Moscow after her conference, and I could apologize profusely for--" She gave a sigh, shaking her head. "She didn't answer my calls. I'm hoping to try to find her now that we're all back on the ship."
"Wear something sexy. It always works when I have to tell him I was wrong."
Millie flushed. "I--I think that might have been part of the problem. I think I might have moved a little too fast." She rubbed the back of her neck, feeling the heat from her flushed skin. "I mean, we had drinks and an interrupted brunch, and then she has to fly halfway across the sector to rescue me, and--and I may have let my emotions about everything overwhelm us both."
"In that case I would skip the lingerie. Maybe order her to one of these sessions? Captive audience and all."
That made Millie chuckle. "I think that would be a bit of a conflict of interest, wouldn't it?" She paused for a moment. "What...exactly did you mean by 'wear something sexy'? I--may have skipped straight to the 'wear nothing at all'. I've never had this problem before." And, if she was being honest with herself, she'd kept the rest of James' undergarment selection wrapped in the pink paper and tucked it away in a drawer. As much as it might fit the situation, she wasn't sure she wanted to wear what he had gifted to her.
"Well, now and then if I've really messed up I have this black dress that he loves. That has helped him forget a lot of things. In your case maybe something that just says 'hey, remember what's under here'?"
Millie flushed, biting her lip. Taking a deep breath, she steered the conversation back. "So, things between you and Chance? How have they been since we returned?"
"Wonderful. I really surprised him about scaling back my work and a potential baby of course. But I don't think things have been this smooth in a long time. And Kieran has begun calling me mama. Melts my heart."
Millie nodded. "I want to find a time where you two can come in together again. Things were rocky when we left, and this is a lot of change for the two of you in such a short amount of time--and this medical procedure will be a huge undertaking."
Patricia nodded. "Probably a good idea."
"And planning for a baby is a lot of work," Millie said, sipping her tea. "I think Millie would be a good name for a baby girl--seeing as how I saved your life." She gave a wink at Patricia over her cup of tea.
Patricia had a good laugh but then shrugged a little. "We'll see."
Lieutenant Aemilia "Millie" Stepanova
Chief Counselor, USS Mercutio
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Mercutio