Coffee Talk

Kero sat at a table in the Cantina, sipping her beloved Raktajino. Like many others seemed to do, she was studying a PADD during her break, catching up on reports or maybe some logs. She heard a few steps from someone coming her way and raised her gaze to find Luthien Vausse, her XO, stand by the table with what looked like a glass of orange juice in her left hand.

“Oh, hey Commander, have a seat.” The half-Klingon peered at her while drinking from her cup, and placed her PADD on the table in front of her.

“Captain.” Luthien nodded just before taking a seat. The two were long time friends, but she tended to respond with rank if Kero addressed her in such a way, to respect the seniority of the chain of command. “I see you are only having a semi-break?” The XO continued impishly.

Kero perked an eyebrow, as she does. “Are you telling me off again, Luthien?”

Nobody else was in the Cantina and the words resounded clearly in the open space.

Luthien crossed her hands in front of her, on her lap. “It's just healthy to actually switch off every now and then. Lose the PADDs, enjoy your Raktajino in peace…”

Kero smirked, “You are certainly helping with the latter.”

“Oh fine.” Luthien feigned offence. “I’ll be going then. Let you have your not-really-a-break.”

The Captain rolled her eyes and shook her head, smiling. “That's borderline mutiny. I would send you to the brig but I can do with some company.”

“Works for me.” Vausse contemplated the Captain for a few moments. “So what's on your mind?”

“You’ve got to stop that.” Kero took a deeper breath, but her tone of voice was still playful.

“I don't need to read your mind, I have known you for years.” The blonde Betazoid cocked her head slightly and brought her locked hands on top of the table, leaning forward towards the Captain.

Kero held the PADD from the bottom edge vertically to direct her XO’s attention to it. “These are some of your logs from when you were a Counselor.”

Luthien blinked and retracted her head, surprised. “Are you concerned about my performance?”

The Captain set the PADD back on the table. “I am just wondering if we are wasting your talents. And the capabilities of this ship and crew.”


“The Vesta is a long range vessel. It's no escort but for your average science ship it is heavily armed. It’s excellent for recon when the fleet needs it. And then there are our usual assignments. Exploration is important. Surveying planets is important. Finding new plants or remedies that can help the medical and terraforming fields is important.”

“But…?” Vausse straightened her posture.

Kero gazed the PADD for a moment or two. “You have personally helped so many people. You have seen them when they are most vulnerable and helped them get back on their feet. Some of your reports… and you best not repeat this to anyone because I never cry…” The Captain shot a look of admonition to her XO together with a faint grin. “Some of these reports almost had me in tears. Why did you decide to serve on the Troi, Luthien?”

The Captain grabbed her Raktajino cup and brought it to her lips. She stopped and looked at it, realising it was empty, so she placed it back on the table, awaiting a response.

The Betazoid stood up and smiled, “I’ll get you another one.” She always paid attention to things like these. It wasn't just with her friend, she simply liked people to be comfortable.

“No. It's okay, I’ll do it in a bit.” Kero’s eyes had followed her XO while she stood.

“But you'd like one now, right?” Luthien kept smiling.

The Betazoid made her way to the bar and exchanged a few words with Swifty. The Captain followed her with her gaze all along but her mind wasn't necessarily paying attention to what was happening. She was thinking about some of those reports she had just read.

The blonde came back with a cup which she placed in front of Kero. She took a seat again.

“You've got to stop that.” The Captain finally stated.

“Never.” Luthien stood… or rather seated, defiant.

“You owe me a reply.” The half-Klingon was wholly serious.

The XO cupped the glass with both hands, one on each side. “There was one very hard thing to deal with in that job.”

Kero perked her eyebrow. “Which was?”


The Captain remained silent, pondering on that word. She knew well of loss, but she always viewed Vausse's previous assignment as one of reconciliation and rebuilding.

The Betazoid closed her eyes for a second or two, presumably recollecting past events.

“You need to keep professional as a Counselor, you need to make sure you don't allow your own feelings to get in the way. Some people will infuriate you, but you need to remember that they are opening up to you with their most intimate thoughts, what angers them and makes them irrational, or what scares them. What saddens them. Maybe they say something in anger or in frustration, it doesn't mean they are that way as a norm.” Vausse took a sip of her juice.

Kero just nodded. Her XO wasn't finished obviously.

“But you also need to keep your feelings in check when the people who talk to you break your heart. I have seen plenty of families ruined by the Borg. I have seen parents without kids. Kids without parents. And kids whose parents are like they don't exist anymore. And it's not just the kids. Sometimes you really wish you could stay longer…”

“To see how it all develops? How the people you helped get on with their life?” The Captain began to understand.

“Yes. But then I would need to live for several lifetimes.” Luthien chuckled.

The Captain drank some of her Raktajino, which was still hot. “I am guessing you came to care for a lot of these people.”

Vausse nodded and allowed a few moments of silence before her next response. “It's difficult sometimes, you know. At some time or the other anyone can come to you and ask you to help in your capacity as a Counselor. What do you do? Do you just detach yourself from everyone and anyone? You can't really do that, unless you are Vulcan.”

Kero allowed a small smile to escape her. “That would be an interesting Counselor.”

“Maybe not the one you’d feel comfortable with, but they are excellent Counselors actually. It's not really down to race, it's down to the individual's disposition to their career choice.”

The Captain kept a few thoughts for herself while she contemplated the words of her XO. Actually someone she had talked to in several occasions had showed an affinity for logic and composure that would rival that of few Vulcans. And she was perfectly happy with that approach, in fact it was what she felt she needed to balance her own emotions.

“Oh, I agree with that.” Kero began. “There is something to be said for someone who offers you complete stability when you feel everything else is falling to pieces around you. Sometimes, though, it is nice to talk to someone who shows they have strong empathy for what you are feeling.”

Luthien nodded a couple of times, slowly. “What I find with people who have left the Collective is that even when they don't know who they are anymore and lose their sense of self, they still all respond very differently and uniquely to their newfound individuality.”

The Captain crossed her legs and leaned to one side of the chair.

“As you are aware, my sister and I are the prime example of this. The Collective made me more open, sometimes I miss the sharing. Living amongst non-telepaths is not always easy. My sister hates going back to Betazed, she doesn't like people getting in her head. I find these two are the most common reactions to post-assimilation. Those who need the sharing sometimes become dependent on you, so I had to make sure I didn't become some sort of substitute to an addiction for them. But sometimes it was needed. And again sometimes, because I knew exactly what they went through, a bond did create.”

Kero's eyes studied Vausse's facial expressions. She wasn't consciously doing it, it was just something she did instinctively.

“Eventually, I think I essentially stretched myself too thin. I worked for longer hours and leaving people behind after missions got harder. When I heard you were getting your own command, I knew where I wanted to be.” Luthien finally ventured a gaze towards her Captain, with a smile.

Kero’s eyes squinted for a very brief moment. “Would you say you wouldn't go back to that again, given the chance?”

“My first reaction – there is nothing more satisfying than knowing someone's life improved as a direct result of your efforts. I would love to do that again.” Luthien smiled. “Perhaps not full time. We help people in our own way on the Troi and it has been great serving aboard that ship. That is also something I am not ready to give up just yet.”

Kero ran her tongue between her lips and took a slightly deeper breath. Something was clearly brewing in her mind but Luthien didn't have to wait long to find out what it was, “Maybe we can devote some time to some humanitarian missions. I’ll have a chat with someone in 38 Command, see if it can be arranged.”

The Betazoid lit up. “Well, I wouldn't object. I don't think anybody on the Troi would.”

“If they read some of these logs, I am quite certain nobody would.”