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Approving temporary guardianship

Posted on Sun Jun 16th, 2024 @ 11:23pm by Lieutenant JG Toareth Rouen (née Darqa) & Captain Qa'ada MD & Zirvell Khen

3,302 words; about a 17 minute read

Mission: Fortuna
Location: (former) Captain's quarters
Timeline: Stardate 52979.7

After the ceremony that installed the new captain, and had abruptly transferred his mentor, Zirvell had rushed home. His own home, not the one Doctor Rouen had offered to him. He did need someone to turn to, an adult who was responsible for him because of his age. But surely, he could just stay here?

He looked around the empty quarters, for the twins had gone to family on Earth. This was the first real home he'd ever had, with a sense of family he had never experienced before. And now it was taken from him because of circumstances that were beyond everyone involved.

Feeling overwhelmed by emotions that were equally beyond his experience, the boy fled into his bedroom and curled up on his bed. His body was shaking with sobs he could no longer contain.

Captain Qa'ada, having only been aboard the Britannic for a short period of time, had an unhappy duty with which to attend now that Captain Fredricks had been transferred to the Bradbury. Walking toward the former Captain's Quarters, the new Captain chose to wait for Doctor Rouen before tapping the door chime.

Toareth rounded a nearby intersection not a minute later. She was hitting herself in the back of the neck with a hypospray then went to massage that area whilst flexing her neck, working the medication forth. Replacing the hypospray back into her satchel, she stepped up to Captain Qa'ada. "Captain," she said, realizing he was right on time, not a second earlier nor later. It was her who was later, by only a minute maybe. Perhaps not the best impression. "Thank you, for having me here for this business."

"Yes, Doctor, I felt it necessary to address this sooner rather than later," the Captain replied having reviewed several of the details on Zirvell Khen and his place aboard the Britannic. He felt concern for the youngster, in more ways than one, and hoped that a solution could be achieved.

Toareth spoke up, having some important information before they announced their arrival and entered. "I have ruled Zirvell Khen a special case. Based on my gatherings from his past and from he has told me," because El-Aurians are professional listeners, "I have surmised that he has considerable abandonment issues, perhaps some psychological and emotional abuse from his biological father. Maybe even both parents. Based on his history, he seems to never have been able to be a child, but was treated as an adult the second he was able to walk upright. Kindness, tenderness, compassion are words still quite foreign to him and he does not seem to know how to accept and handle those feelings. So, he immediate rejects them all as a means of the other person attempting to take something in return. Cardassians his age are generally already being groomed into positions of power, military, government. Zirvell still clings to his stuffed bunny. Physically, he is weak. He came to us, chronically malnourished, but we have seen to that. On Cardassia, he was made to fight for everything; for even a glass of water. Most of those fights he lost. So, you can imagine that he Zirvell has severe distrust issues regarding anything military and authoritative. Starfleet, which is oftentimes militaristic, is definitely not what he needs, but this...this all he knows and the only home he has, filled with the only people...the very few people...he trusts. I am sure you can appreciate how delicate of a situation this is." She looked at the door to what is supposed to be the Captain's Quarters. "Too much change and in too short a span of time can have devastating effects." Toareth did not want to tell Captain Qa'ada that, in her professional opinion, he would have to settle with whatever VIP quarters that were available; that the Captain's Quarters should remain the home of a 16 year old Cardassian civilian for the foreseeable future.

"Sounds like a traditional Cardassian upbringing, no matter how warped it may be," the Captain acknowledged as he briefly looked toward the doors to the Captain's Quarters. He referred to the datapad that he had been carrying with him. "I have reviewed records and log entries related to Zirvell," the Captain admitted to the new Chief Medical Officer, "including those of both the Captain and your predecessor as Chief Medical Officer. Not to mention that display when we were in the shuttlebay upon my arrival. I'm not a Counselor, my background is in neurosurgery, but I am not immune from the realization that this child has been severely impacted by everything that has happened aboard this ship in the last week. Reality, I would have been contented to send him with Captain Fredricks; however, I'm aware that's not what's best for him right now. I do believe that the Britannic's rightful Captain will one day return, until then how do you best suggest we proceed?"

"Well, I am aware, sir, that this is the Captain's private quarters; your rightful place to reside," she began. "But I do think Zirvell should be allowed to remain residing here for the time being with a slow transition of moving him to other quarters. Zirvell appears content in Sick Bay, helping out as he can, studying and learning. Zirvell took to Dr. Elryo quickly and very fond of him. He seems to be taken to me as well it seems. I would suggest allowing him to act as a page, or sorts, for the medical team, give him the time he needs to cope with and accept the situation as it is. Let him, along with our minute prodding of course, come to the conclusion to move to smaller quarters, probably closer to Sick Bay. And...uh..." Toareth was a bit reluctant to say this as she was only on year 3 of learning to be a mother, despite Gabrielle being her second child (the first child still being unknown to everyone), so she knew little about child rearing, especially Cardassians and especially children already in their teenage years and especially children needed much in the way of psychological assistance. Still, "allow me the opportunity to look after Zirvell, to acquire his trust and try to repair the damage done to him over the years. With me, my husband, Rene, and our child, Gabrielle, I think we can be a powerful force to his benefit."

The Captain considered the suggestion that had been made. The reality of the darkness that this child had been exposed to during his lifetime was unfathomable, unforgivable, and unfair. To be subjected to such trauma was horrifying and the fact that Zirvell was thriving as well as he was could only be a testament to who he was and who he'd already become.

"I would be willing to approve such a request, Doctor, but there is one key factor we have to consider before any action is taken at all: what Zirvell wants. He may still be a child in many ways, but he does have the right to guide his own destiny in many respects. Let's see where he takes us."

The comments that Captain Qa'ada had surprised himself. Knowing that this child needed strong support he was surprised in himself that he'd not made a summary judgment, but there was something else there that led him to this path. Maybe it was a feeling that Zirvell would be successful despite his past? Perhaps it was guilt for taking away his supports? Possibly a bit of both. Regardless, they would soon find out.

"I agree, Captain," Toareth said. "We cannot hope to help him if he does not want said help. We find out what he wants then build a plan of attack based on that." With a breath, Toareth reached forward and depressed the call button beside the door alerting Zirvell that he had company.

At the sound of the chime, Zirvell sat up. "Come," he called out, somewhat hoarsely. He listened for footsteps as he made his way to the bedroom door. It slid aside upon his proximity and he flew forward as he recognized Toar, wrapping his arms around her. He cast the new captain an almost withering glare -riddled with grief- before burying his still wet face against her shoulder. He said nothing as he just held her, desperate for a hint of comfort.

Zirvell's sudden rush upon her startled Toareth to a small degree. She did manage to get her arms out to return his embrace but the Cardassian's lightning maneuverability had him latched onto her before she could even begin to close her arms around him. After staggering just a bit as a result of Zirvell's momentum being transferred onto her, Toareth realized she was held firm in his embrace; no danger of falling. She slowly wrapped her arms around him in return. Toar did turn her eyes upon Captain Qa'ada briefly after noticing Zirvell's own brief glance at the man/bird. She decided not to say anything just yet as she had learned, almost immediately upon meeting the boy, that the scene needed to unfold peaceably a moment longer, allowing him the time to acquire some form of comfort before they got down to business.

Captain Qa'ada, despite his rank and position, had been a doctor prior to his moving into command and knew that he could not interrupt this moment. While starships did function on schedules and tasks, there was a time to break for such things to allow the people element to shine through. Placing his hands at his side, the Captain waited for Zirvell to be the one to tell that he was ready.

It took a few minutes for the teenager to come to his senses. Giving Toar a final, grateful squeeze, he took a small step back to allow his guests further inside. The quarters were organized even though it showed a household of one adult and three teenagers. Zirvell drew in a deep breath, determined to be a good host now that his emotions weren't running away with him. "Can I get you anything?" He asked them, his voice still barely above a whisper.

"El-Aur spiced tea," Toareth said as she ventured further inside as Zirvell had allowed. "And hot," she finished. She had seldom been allowed to take in a captain's quarters and took the few seconds she had to do just that. Fearing the worst, Toareth reached into her satchel and retrieved her personal hypospray and hit herself with it on the back of her neck. Replacing the hypospray, she turned her head back and forth a few times and stretched her neck to work the medication forth.

Though he was putting on the brave face of external calm, anyone trained to could see that the teenager was anything but. His hand trembled slightly as he served the doctor her very hot tea. "Captain?" He queried softly, waiting for the avian to make his request.

Watching the duo, Captain Qa'ada had noted that Toareth had taken a hypospray and injected something into her neck. His keen eyesight had picked up on it as his species had evolved from birds, giving him an advantage when it came to vision. His species had once been very keen hunters and it was only a natural part of his evolution. Unfortunately, it dominated his thoughts as he considered the implications.

"Bolian Tonic Water," the avian answered both politely and graciously when he regained his faculties. Normally he did not accept drinks when on official business, but he knew that this would help more than hurt. Besides, Bolian Tonic Water had a physiological effect that could calm nerves. He waited to dive into the nature of their visit, not wanting to ruffle feathers.

Toareth cradled her tea in two hands, blew on it and sipped at it carefully. She stepped forward a step or two following Zirvell as he was off, returning to the replicator, for the captain's request. "Zirvell," she said, "how have you been keeping?"

The Cardassian turned towards her as he waited for the requested drink to appear. "I feel alone," he admitted slowly, "and scared." That certainly was something for him to admit to. He turned to retrieve the drink and carefully moved to hand it to the captain, praying he wouldn't spill anything. He returned to the replicator to get himself a glass of juice and then returned to the couch. His entire bearing was tense, his expression anxious as he watched his visitors. It took all of his courage to turn to the captain. "What can I do for you sir?" He asked, not even sure if he wanted and answer, but Lukas had taught him it was polite to ask.

"Direct, I like that," the Aurelian Captain answered. "Zirvell, the Doctor and I wanted to come speak with you to check on you. There have been a lot of things happening lately aboard the Britannic, and many of them have directly impacted you in one way or another."

"Remember, Zirvell," started Toareth, "what I said before. Things change. Things change all the time. Change is the only constant. That being said, know then, that," an Toareth glanced at the captain, hoping she was not overstepping any bounds or binding him to any promises he did not make, "you are not being removed from this ship. I am not being reassigned away from the Britannic. So, you needn't worry about that."

The boy had held his breath, then released it in visible relief. "Yes sir," he answered slowly, "quite a lot has happened and not all good. Things were going well, until Lukas was injured, and now I'm alone yet again."

"Not alone," Toareth said as she stepped forward and put her hand on his shoulder. "You have us. You have me. And there will always be someone here for you. You may feel alone, but the opposite is the truth." Toareth finished and looked at the captain, awaiting his input.

The boy suppressed an involuntary flinch at being touched so close to his neck ridges. He understood there was no malice to her touch but the memory of them being fractured washed over him then and there. "Promise?" He implored with the voice of someone who had been disappointed too many times with conveniently broken promises. He fidgeted as he watched them, uncomfortable under the scrutiny. "I've been alone for far too long," he whispered, "pretty much since my mother and sisters died."

Toareth did not want to remind him of her own plight; watching her people die and her planet destroyed, only to be alone again upon arriving on Earth. She felt he had heard that enough, knew that all too well, and would take that as her comparing their individual pains as something of a competition. Zirvell did not need that. What he needed was for her to say, "promise."

"We have been looking at the possibility of the doctor and her family taking care of you while we await the return of Lukas to the Britannic," Qa'ada interjected. "Part of why I am here is to understand your thoughts and feelings on that idea." He hoped that they were positive feelings, and felt that they would be, but he did not want to issue a summary judgment without getting more input.

"And seeing how Rene and I are both the head's of our respective departments," said Toareth, "with a child no less, we are allotted family sized billets. That means three bedrooms. They are small albeit but you could live with us and have your own room."

The boy cast a longing look towards the room he had occupied until now. "But what if Lukas returns?" He whispered desperately, "can't I stay here?" He didn't know that Qa'ada was technically now entitled to these specific quarters. He did appreciate the offer and his bearing did show his gratitude towards it, but he didn't want to be uprooted again. Not when he had just taken all this time to make it his own just like Lukas had encouraged him to do. "I can't stay alone," he knew, "I need someone to turn to, an adult." And he did like the new doctor and seemed to trust her even though he was very upset about Peeq's departure.

Toareth was glad that Zirvell drew the same conclusion; that he could not remain alone. "Lukas will return," she said to Zirvell while also hoping she was telling the truth. "Until that time, however, you remaining in these quarters, and alone...even I think you realize that is not the best scenario for you."

"I'm just so tired of having no place for myself," Zirvell whispered, "I've been having to move so many times now. Nowhere safe, always on guard. This was the first time I had something for myself." He looked towards the captain, almost begging him. "I just need time, just a little longer? A few days maybe?"

The visiting captain listened to the discussion between the two, and Zirvell's plight was especially harrowing to the Aurelian Captain. By technicality, Qa'ada knew that he was the rightful user of the Captain's Quarters aboard the Britannic, but he also knew that the young man before him needed some stability in his life, now especially. With the fallout of not only the Britannic's most recent mission, but also the Dominion War weighing heavily, he couldn't uproot the child again.

"Doctor," the Captain relented, "you and your family are free to move in with Zirvell here."

Toareth found herself at a loss for words. This turn in the discussion was not what she was expecting. "Aye, sir," she managed to say. "I will relay that to my husband. That is..." and she redirected her words back to Zirvell, "that is, of course, if Zirvell would have us. Two adults, a child that will need looking after when we are both on shift."

That hadn't been what he thought when he had asked for time... Zirvell was left speechless at the Captain's generous offer. He had just meant to be allowed a week or two to adjust to a new situation before moving, but this was more than he had ever hoped for. Tears welled up in his eyes yet again as he moved to -carefully- wrap his arms around the avian captain. "Thank you," he managed between gasps for air.

He turned his head towards Toar. "Yes of course," he smiled through his tears of happiness. "I can look after Gabrielle, if she'll let me. After school... If you'll let me." While he had gotten along well with Adele, his relationship with Oliver had been very strained. Perhaps, this would go better as the doctor's daughter was much younger than Lukas' twins, who were his own age.

Qa'ada allowed for the friendly embrace from Zirvell, knowing that the young Cardassian needed stability and to know that he was supported. Looking at the Chief Medical Officer then back at Zirvell, he continued, "Then it's settled as far as I'm concerned. Doctor, ask the Operations Manager to complete the required data entries and you are free to use this cabin as long as its needed." He looked at Zirvell, "I know that things may seem grim right now, but you are with friends here aboard the Britannic. This vessel is a family, and we aren't going to break it up."

Zirvell nodded slowly, but his tear stained face was a mask of uncontained gratitude. "Thank you captain," was all he said. This ship was home, and for the first time in his life, he experienced a sense of belonging. He turned to Toar "I'll help with moving," he offered, a genuine smile replacing his earlier anxiety.


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