A London Fog
Posted on Tue Feb 28th, 2017 @ 1:00pm by Lieutenant Merideth Tuppence M.D.
Shoreleave One: SB109
Merideth had spent most of her day doing something rather alien for the past several weeks; Paperwork.
Her console beeped. One new message.
She flicked it on, and waited.
"Hello, Mary. It has been quite a while." A pudgey, but friendly man's face noted. He wore Commodore pips, and held a striking resemblance to Merideth's previous Commanding Officer. Indeed, he was her father. One Commodore Asiago Applewood, a man who was, contrary to his name, allergic to dairy products, including cheese. "I received your request for potential enlistment of a civilian Doctor, by the name of Sarah London. Unfortunately, according to Starfleet paperwork, while this woman is almost a credited physician, her refugee status paperwork hasn't been cleared yet. Without Federation citizenship, her service on a Starfleet vessel, civilian or not, is a legal grey area."
Merideth almost turned the recording off, right then, and there.
"However, there may be an alternative solution. Starfleet is known, from time to time, to offer... Expediency for such paperwork, in exchange for Starfleet service agreements. As the young lady apparently has several sponsors lined up, if she is willing to deal with a few years of academy training, she's welcome to serve aboard a Starship. Talk it out with her, and her adoptive mother." Applewood paused. "Thank you for the fire wine. It's Jihyun's favorite." He added, with an almost smile. He probably would have smiled more, but in fairness, he was dealing with the death of his daughter. "Good luck. Applewood out."
Merideth scowled, before looking away from her terminal. It was only then, that she noticed that there was someone standing in her office, none other than the person in question, Sarah London. Serendipity was a curious force.
"You've been keeping your promises." Sarah said, with an almost smile. "Mom said you would."
"You heard the man, though." Merideth replied, looking away. For some reason, the knowledge that Sarah would not be able to serve in her department bothered Merideth. She couldn't quite put her finger on why.
"It's alright, Doctor Tuppence." Sarah replied, with a shrug. "Mom was going to put in a Starfleet Academy request, anyway."
Merideth nodded, but she was still bothered, for some reason. "There may still be an option. Captain O'touvelli may authorize you with a temporary acting rank, and you may be able to stay aboard ship, and take your courses through correspondence."
Sarah frowned, uncertain. "Why would you make such a request?"
Merideth laughed a little. "There was this Captain, I used to know. Vance Michaels. Terrible taste in men, but she was a pretty pure person. She told me that she tried her best to be everyone's friend, or family, because she knew what it was like to grow up without either. You grew up without friends, or family, until you were... How old?"
Sarah frowned, and looked away. "I was 17, when mom adopted me."
"You have a friend here. Your mom is going to be at the nearest Starfleet Medical center for, oh, probably two years. I just want you to have some semblance of an environment with people you can trust." Merideth paused. "I feel as though your mother would rest safer, knowing you were among friends."
"And you feel as though you owe it to Captain Micheals to care for all the lost children in the universe." Sarah added, unimpressed.
"Daniels. She got married. As I said, horrible taste in men. Some days, I swear we were competing, but she won the 'who is going to have a baby first' race." Merideth took a pause, to sigh. "Look, I'm going to level with you. For some reason, the majority of my staff hasn't quite adjusted to me yet, and, barring Doctor Souda, several of them are openly adversarial. I'm accustomed to that. My chipper nature is often seen as surreal in such a morbid setting, as a fight for life, and death."
"But I'm not." Sarah said, after several moments of silence. "You want me to stay on board because you don't exactly have too many friends here, either. Don't you find that a touch selfish?"
"Yes." Merideth said, before engaging her brain, and finding a better answer. "Yes, I guess it is, Sarah." She admitted, finding no better answer. "I suppose I owe you an apology for that."
"At least you have the decency to admit it. Mom wouldn't admit to the fact that she kept me aboard, because she enjoyed having some semblance of a family close." There was almost a bitter tone to her voice. "I wanted to go to the Academy. Have wanted to, for six years, now."
Merideth transferred the file Commodore Applewood had sent her to a PADD, and hastily signed it, handing it to Sarah. "Then take it. I'm not about to stand in the way of someone else's dreams."
Sarah took the PADD, surprised that Merideth had caved so easily. "Is this your dream, Doctor Tuppence? Chief Medical Officer of a Starship?"
Merideth turned her chair away, and nodded. "As close to it as I ever get, anyway. Vance taught me another lesson, that I'm somewhat bitter about."
"What's that?" Sarah asked, interest piqued.
"You don't get a happy ending. Those are fairy tales. Nothing more." Merideth shrugged, slightly. "I didn't especially want to learn it. I like Fairy Tales."
Sarah frowned, not understanding. "What does that even mean?"
"You're going to laugh. Run along, and go fill out your forms. Someone should be waiting for you to fill them out, so they can arrange transport for you. My friend's father was pretty good at those kinds of things. Probably still is." Merideth replied, turning to face her paperwork again.
"Why would I laugh?" Sarah asked.
"Two of my friends, Lauren, and Vance, found their way to the altar, through their service to Starfleet. I guess I'm just..." Merideth shook her head. "Silly. I keep hoping I'm going to meet Prince charming, unconscious, on one of those biobeds, one day, and live happily ever after."
"Hey, Snow White was the unconscious one." Sarah replied, with a laugh. "Maybe you're Prince Charming."
"Me? Hah. That's a good one." Merideth laughed. "My attempts at romance usually get really awkward when I ask someone on a first date, if they want 5 kids, or 6, and if they'd be okay naming any of them Micheal, or Jane."
Sarah laughed a bit more, until she realized Merideth was serious. "You have 5 children's names picked out?"
"I have 19 children's names picked out." Merideth replied, with a shrug. "That's always how people react. Laughter. Like everything I want in life is a joke." Merideth closed her eyes, and took a breath. "And, yet, the show must go on. I don't have time to weep. I have people to save, so they can fill their dreams, like a Captain who wants to bring her crew home safe, or a young lady who wants to be a doctor."
There was a moment of silence, as Sarah realized that her words had caused a great deal of hurt. "I'm sorry. You must hate me."
"Were I anyone else?" Merideth asked. "Plausibly. I'm incapable of such an act. Hating someone isn't something I make time for. I'm here to heal people, not harm them. Hating them causes them harm." She picked up a PADD, and shook her head. "I'm told that that bothers people more than reassures them."
"It does come across as a touch pretentious, with a good side dish of a superiority complex." Sarah said, taking a seat opposite of Tuppence. "But that's what you actually believe, isn't it?"
"Hating someone harms me, too." Tuppence replied, with a nod. "It's toxic. It breeds in your head, and makes you easy to anger. After Vance, and Alexis, and everyone else I've seen pass away, I get it. Life is too short. I'd rather fight against mortality, than other mortals. Fighting against each other just fills more body bags."
Sarah didn't laugh, this time. "You really are that surreal inside, but your reasons for living in unreality are definable."
"Reality is how you perceive it. Your definition of surrealism is very different than mine. The idea that two groups of people could so venomously hate each other because they have differences in world views seems surreal to me, yet I have seen it repeatedly." Tuppence shrugged. "I choose to see the best in the world, and battle the worst with scalpel and hypospray."
"Thus, Snow White awakening Prince Charming from a biobed." Sarah replied, with a slight laugh. "I think your problem with dating is probably less that you're forward about what you want, and more that people would not wish to get to know you well enough, to understand the flavors of eccentricity that make up your perception."
"I hope not." Merideth replied, scowling. "If my problem is 'Everyone else', there's nothing I can fix, to make it better."
"Who says you need fixing?" Sarah asked, with a shrug. "If you weren't you, how many people wouldn't be here?"
"There will always be someone to step in, and be the Chief Medical Officer." Merideth replied, shaking her head. "I can't be everywhere."
"That doesn't mean every Chief Medical Officer is you." Sarah countered. "I'm glad you were my doctor, and my mom's doctor."
"Why? So you could have the opportunity to mock my worldview, and call me pretentious, and suffering a superiority complex?" Merideth asked.
"No." Sarah replied, getting up, and heading for the door.
"Why, then?" Merideth asked.
"Because you taught me the value of Fairy Tales. All my life, it's been just surviving until tomorrow. I guess I've never really thought about what I want in life, helping people just seemed natural." Sarah shrugged. "Talk to the Captain, if you want. I think I could use..." She trailed off. "Some semblance of an environment filled with people I can trust."
"And you think you'll find that here?" Merideth asked. "With the selfish Chief Medical Officer who lives in a surreal bubble of unreality?"
"Maybe I'm just curious about how the story of Doctor Snow White plays out." Sarah shrugged.
She left the PADD Merideth had handed her on the desk. "After all, you did wake me up from an unconscious state, while I was on that bio-bed."
Sarah left a fairly confused Merideth alone in her office.
"That is the second time people have confused my-" Merideth cut herself off. "Why? What am I doing to attract them?" She frowned, looking at the PADD.
"Maybe I should keep it up." She said, thoughtfully. "At least they seem to have some kind of understanding."
Lieutenant Merideth Tuppence
Chief Medical Officer