The Weight Of One
The Weight of One
Summary: Eve returns to duty early, and with some personal words from Zaharis about success and failure.
Date: 30 ACH
Related Logs: Indiscretions

Chief Medical Officers Office Genesis - Deck 13
30 ACH 6735 Souls

The office of the Chief Medical Officer is a small room, used mostly for consultations and review of sensitive patient materials than the paperwork of the Medical department, which goes through the Naval Administrative offices. Still somehow it has file cabinets along one wall stuffed full of papers, two chairs in front of a desk behind which a large leather chair is set. On the desk sits a computer terminal.

Zaharis is sitting in his office, going over a file on his desk. Eve's file, from the photograph that's clipped to the first page. A cigarette burns in the ashtray nearby, a cup of coffee sitting half-forgotten by his arm.

There's a faint rap of knuckles on the door, before Eve is opening it. There's no pensive ducking her head in first, as before, she merely slips in rigidly and stands at attention near the entrance. "Lieutenant Sloan, reporting as requested, Sir."

Zaharis looks up at the sound of the knocking. "At ease, Lieutenant. Come and have a seat." He doesn't have a Principal's Office kind of tone today, just talking. "How have you been?"

Eve gives the briefest of smiles, which doesn't quite make it to her eyes. "A bit stir crazy, in all honesty, sir." She seems to hesitate a moment by the door, before she edges further in and sinks into a chair. "Not that I'm complaining." Afterall, she could have been a lot worse off.

"Doesn't sound like a complaint," Zaharis replies, picking up his cigarette. "AIQ is less of a picnic than it sounds like in the brochure. I hear you've been very well-behaved, though. No complaints from security."

Eve looks down to her hands for a moment, which seem awkward until she laces them together. "I'm not really the sort to cause trouble, sir. Most ruckus I cause is having my bunk light on too late, or taking too long in the shower." She glances back up, her weak smile tinged towards rueful.

Zaharis smiles a little, himself. He gets a last drag off his cigarette and puts it out in the ashtray. "I gave you seven days of AIQ. That's the maximum I could have assigned you, and I did so to give myself some flexbility. You being held to quarters gave you what I hoped would be time to have some privacy to think and get yourself together, without the pressure of duty making that difficult. So. Have you had any thoughts on all this?"

Eve pulls her bottom lip through teeth, the meat of it catching for a moment in a pensive sort of expression. "I know I have to bear through the ridicule and distrust ad nauseum from here until the end of days. Its one of the consequences I came to accept before I even came to you. I can't tell you how sorry I am, for no words can truly express it. But nothing is going to change the look in your eyes, and that of others, should they find out the nature of this, but time. It was a heavy risk, career versus the safety of the crew, and given the choice again, I'd do the same. I wouldn't and will not, however, make the same mistake to begin with twice."

"Well, Lieutenant." Zaharis lets his hands fold, loosely. "When it comes to ridicule, the only people who have any business knowing this are myself, command, Major Altair, and Lieutenant Shem and his direct superiors. None of whom have any interest in ridicule. Should anyone else become privy to this somehow and ridicule you, you go straight to me or to JAG. As far as Altair and I are concerned this is the end of the issue, and nobody else has the right to punish you for it. Alright?"

Eve seems to release a bit of tension that comes on an exhale of breath past her lips. "I appreciate that, sir. If only from a social heirarchy standpoint." Sleeping with one of the most hated men on crew, doesn't exactly earn you brownie points. There must be some hint of a self destructive hint to Evelyn, considering her coupling choices.

Zaharis nods slightly. "I'll be completely frank with you, Sloan. I've seen cases of frat before and we're going to see plenty in the coming times. If a doctor breaks those regs then they will be addressed for it under CCMJ, but in my eyes who someone makes a good or bad choice to sleep with doesn't mean a damned thing about how good of a doctor they may be. Your mistake specifically with me wasn't the fact of the frat alone. And I think you know that."

Eve rubs briefly at her eye with the heel of her hand, but this time she's not rubbing away tears. Yet. "Yes, sir. I realize that. I fumbled that one good. I'm so backwards and upside down, I'm not sure I'm of use to anyone anymore. Truth be told, when the Commander offered discharge papers, for a moment I serious considered them. Frankly, they may teach you how to deal with post traumatic stress disorder, but human annihilation? That was never on my final exams."

Zaharis smiles briefly. "I know. I applaud you for sticking with it as you've done so far, as quite honestly I wouldn't have thought a drop less of you if you had decided to resign your commission. This isn't easy on anyone, even for those who have some pretty impeccable game faces. It's not fun, it's not pretty, and it's not a game. In that light I do want to ask you this, person to person…and without the threat of judgment hanging on you, because it's not. Do you feel that you can and want to continue in your post?"

Eve glances up, meeting Zaharis' gaze as steady as she can manage. There's determination in the line of her jaw, steadfastness in the glint of her eyes. "If not, I would have requested a dishonorable discharge when I faced you with this matter. At the worst, I would have been shipped off to the Carina to live off my remaining funds, and perhaps counsel the civilians on marital problems if I needed extra money. Frankly, I need to be here, Sir. My personal problems aside."

Zaharis nods, once, in acknowledgment. He picks up his coffee cup as he asks her, "Why do you feel you need to be here?"

Eve studies his facial expressions careful, for once putting aside her own personal apprehensions and falling back on her laurels as a psyche. Unfortunatly, Zaharis doesn't give her much. "You must be fantastic at triad." Is said in a mumbled aside, before she forces a smile back to her features. "Because I can do more good here, then I can selfishly rotting away in Civilian life. These are the people gluing together the human race and trying to perserve that. I have to give back where I can. Even though…" She swallows harshly. "Even though sometimes it seems impossible."

"Crap at it, actually," Zaharis comments, as to her triad joke. He sips his coffee and puts it down, curling his hands around the base of the cup. His brown eyes are unreadable but for a warmth they seem to have naturally. Which may very well just be an illusion helped along by the beginning crow's feet of middle age. "What seems impossible, exactly?"

Eve shakes her head slightly, "Without divulging privileged conversation, I can't help those that don't want help. I think I make a break through on a person's anger issues, only to have them running off and busting noses. I'm telling people to deal with loss by looking towards the future, when not only does theirs seem grim, but the human race in general. You know what I mean." At least, she hopes he does.

Maybe Zaharis does, maybe he doesn't. He keeps it hard to tell, from his expression. There's just a slight pause while he considers what she's said. "If you had to tell me what your mission statement as a psychiatrist was, what would it be?"

Well, that answer is easy. In fact, it was likely covered in 101 before they even really dug into fun social disorders, "To assist in developing resources to advance the treatment of the mentally ill and improve the mental health of our patients with a special emphasis on helping them find a productive fulfilling place in society." Eve answers almost mechanically.

"I didn't ask for what they told you in school," Zaharis replies, as if he'd anticipated that. "Please don't spit that at me. You talk about helping people, but what is 'helping'? It's a question any doctor faces, and one we have to be a little more frank with ourselves when we consider the answers. Especially now. So tell me a real answer. What would it be?"

Eve looks down at her hands again, feeling admonished once more. "To ease the minds of the crew. Help them find some hope, help them find some sanity in all the uncertainty. Give them some comfort before every last one of us frakking unravels."

Zaharis listens, but before he answers he says simply. "Eve, look at me."

Eve drags her gaze back up, silently following the order.

Zaharis gives her the time to make eye contact first. He hasn't moved, and when he speaks his voice is much quieter. "Do you really believe in what you just said?"

Eve wets her lips with a quick pass of her tongue, mouth suddenly dry and words hard to form. Its the best answer she can give, which is the truth. "I want to."

Zaharis almost smiles. "And what's keeping you from doing so?"

Eve exhales slowly, "People getting airlocked. The fact that none of us have a home anymore, that isn't run on life support and encased in steel. Our monetary system has no longer has any basis. All of our family trees no longer have branches or roots. Its a little like getting in front of a congregation, and realizing at the end of your ceremony, you've just spoken to a crowd of atheists. But all we can do is try. I'm trying, Jesse." This time, perhaps the first time ever, she's used his first name.

Zaharis shakes his head. "You're mixing questions. I was asking if you believed in what you said. About what your mission is. Not whether it can be accomplished. Do you believe in what you told me that you're here to do?"

Evelyn's gaze doesn't leave his, "Of course I do." Is offered quietly, "Even if that make me delusional. Much the same you'll keep trying to fix soldiers who are fighting a losing battle, when we're out of bandages and you're down to using bedsheets and duty shirts."

"You're willing to believe that your convictions of the parameters of your duty are delusional?" Zaharis asks her, watching her face. "That's a mindset that automatically turns what you do into that same losing battle. Though considering that you seem to get depressed when you can't solve everything about a person, I'm not really surprised that you do that. The problem is that when indeed you can't solve everything, and that person who walked in angry is still angry afterwards, it doesn't mean work has failed, Eve. We take it for granted that what people…perceive, believe and feel, is more significant to their lives than what is objectively 'true', if that makes sense. It doesn't make your work a losing battle. It just means that maybe telling them to look to the future isn't going to do it. And maybe we, as people whose job it is to try and ease their suffering, need to think about that a little more."

Eve presses her lips together into a firm line, "I'm not trying to be contradictory, sir. Nor am I looking for the easy fix. I'm just saying that job satisfaction? Has been nil. Not one success story. You save lives, you see the difference, you see their vitals turn around. You see them get back on their feet. Its not my want, I'm questioning sir. Its my ability. What if I'm no longer cut out for this."

"I think that whether you are or you aren't depends," Zaharis replies, "On how you're making yourself define 'success'."

Eve doesn't really pull her gaze away from his, but its momentarily obscured by a hand that drags down her face. "I can't fix this, Jesse. I can't…make the annihilation of people's family and friends 'okay' by any one's standards. So many tears, so much anger. All because of the same thing. Over and over and over again." She shakes her head, "I'm sorry, I'm talking in circles. I'm trying. When I'm allowed, I'd like to go back to work. People need a shoulder, I just have to be a stronger one."

Zaharis exhales quietly. "Eve, you're not listening to me at all. It isn't about you and whether or not you can 'fix' anything. I want to tell you a story, but I need you to listen to what I'm saying."

Eve gives a vague sort of nod, her attention fully on the CMO.

"On Picon," Zaharis says, unfolding his hands. "I used to volunteer in my off-time at a clinic for alcoholics and drug users, as a counselor. It was in a rough area, poverty-stricken. We had about…if I remember right, somewhere around a twenty-five percent success rate for sobriety that lasted a year or more. Twenty-five percent. And that was one of the highest in the region." He pauses, glancing down at his hands. "Sometimes a counselor could go for years and not see a single case that the state called a success. I think I only had one or two, myself. I would work and work and still that person that I spent so much time with, and made myself so strong for would just be back on the street, and for a long time I thought 'that's my fault, I failed and that's why they failed'. And you know, I was very tempted to quit, because all my mind could do was blame it on myself and say okay, I'm not good enough at this. It took me a long time to realise something, Eve. That it didn't matter how 'good' the counselors were, because the situation was so much larger than just us. We could try our damndest and be the strongest people in the world, and seventy-five percent of the time it still wouldn't 'succeed'. But…you know what. I also realised that even if our 'success' rate was one percent, it was worth it. If there was one person walking out of there who didn't have to come back, that was enough. Even just one. And you never know who that one is going to be…it could be anyone. Anyone out of those thousands, and finding that one person and saving that one life was enough." He takes a breath and clears his throat. "So this is what I'm trying to tell you. That it's not whether you're superwoman or not, you're going to see more failure than success. But somewhere there -will- be one person that walks away from you with what they needed. Maybe you won't even know who it is, but they'll be out there. Make that one life worth it to you."

Eve smiles, even though her eyes rim with tears at his story. The realization of it, the truth of it, the message of it, all hitting her like a ton of bricks which actually seems to /lift/ the weight off her shoulders. She's even sitting a little straighter, when he draws to the end. And this time when her nod comes, its with a firm resolve. "Thank you. Jesse."

Zaharis looks subtly more tired after he's said all that, as though he'd breathed out a little of his spirit into the air between them. As he inhales again though, his shoulders seem to straighten again. "You're welcome. I hope you'll keep it in mind." He closes the file on his desk, the one showing her name on the front. "You can return to duty tomorrow morning at 09:00. You'll be on one month of probation, but if you show the level of competence you did before this all started, I don't think you'll even notice it going by."

Off AIQ early, only to be put on probation. Does that mean she passed her evaluation, or failed miserably. "Yes sir. Thank you sir." Is all Eve can say, with a pinched sort of smile on her features as she stands. One month. Thirty days. She's become good at counting things lately. Three groups of ten. Ten groups of three, depending on the month, then you might need to add a day or subtract two unless its a leap year. She stands in front of the chair after rising, waiting to be dismissed.

Zaharis smiles a little at her expression. "The probation is standard," he says, as though he could read her mind on that one. "Don't take it personally. Just do a good job." He rises as well, giving the bottom of his blue jacket a tug to straighten it. "Welcome back, Lieutenant, and I'll see you tomorrow. You're dismissed."

Eve feels the need, even after being dismissed, to offer her hand across the expanse of his desk. "Thank you, sir." Said once more.

Zaharis accepts the hand, shaking it once. "Go get a full night of sleep. That's an order."

Eve gives a curt nod of her head, and a lopsided smile. "Yes, sir." Before her hand is slipping from his, and she's headed to the door. Free. For now.

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