That's my Q # 18 & 19 "Masks and Armour"

-={On}=- [Starbase Ronin, Costume Party]

<old> He left his perch at the viewport, slowly wandering towards Caelen. He needed to talk to him, possibly for both their sakes. He knew Caelen had gone through a lot over the past two months, with his wife leaving him and taking their daughter with her. The one thing he loved most was now gone from him, and Andrew didn't need to be a counselor to understand the pains that he would be feeling. </old>

Caelen was leaning on his barstool, looking around the room, most of the senior staff had arrived, a lot of officers around and even some enlisted personell graced them with their presence. He saw Andrew walking closer, realizing that he would probably recognise him and would find a lot of psycho reasons for Caelen dressing up as a terrorist/freedom fighter.

Andrew stopped beside Caelen, looking him from head to toe. "Interesting costume. Any particular reason you chose V?

"I liked the graphic novel" Caelen responded, rather bluntly "want something to drink?"

"Nah, I'm not really in the mood for it. I would have been if we were still on the Pegasus, but something feels different now that we're here on the Ronin. I dunno, I feel uncomfortable now, less analytic than I was then..."

"I thought as a counsellor you of all people would know..." Caelen didn't look him in the eyes "...with life comes change... and each of those changes affects us for better or for worse" he sighed a bit knowing only how true this was for himself "I'm sure you'll get settled in and used to everything here... at least there is enough excitement... and from what I know I still owe you about half a month of leave"

Andrew sighed. "I knew there would be a change, I didn't expect it to hit me this much. Before the Pegasus got decommissioned, I was breaking out of my anti-social behaviour. I was happier, joking around with Floyd, Evans, and Black in the sickbay. Now it feels like I'm going back in time, back to when I hated people. I'm always in my office, I pass most patients over to other counselors, and I'm constantly irritated." He looked at Caelen. "But I know I'm not the only one who's not feeling the same. You never once looked me in the eyes when you just said that. The whole thing with Jennifer's cost you a lot more than the love of your wife and daughter. We aren't any different in this."

"And yet we are not the same..." Caelen responded turning his head, looking at Andrew now although it made no difference, through the mask you couldn't see his eyes. "...I won't see my girl every day now... it hurts but that's life" he said, bitter, cold, he didn't mean the 'that's life' part, he hated it, he hated himself. "I just hope that Ronin will give us some relaxing, some steadyness so we can all find out who we truly are"

"You don't mean that. You can't lose your daughter and just shrug it off. Jennifer came in to see me a while back, before you two were seperated. She said you changed, you were more cold, blunt, and irritable. I'm now seeing the side she saw in you. Only now it's more obvious."

Caelen turned away again "I have every right to be more irritable..." he glanced shortly at Andrew again "...and I don't remember asking you for advice"

"Never said you didn't. And my job is to make sure everyone is constantly fit to do their job. Which is what I'm doing. You may not like it, but it has to be done. And I haven't really given any advice, I'm merely commenting on what I see."

"So when I dress up like V, what Do you see?" Caelen asked, wanting to know if he was right in thinking that Andrew had attached all kinds of silly psycho babble to his costume.

"What do I see? I see someone hiding their emotions behind a mask. You know how hard it is for me to make a good assessment on someone when they're dressed like you? Other than that,, I see someone who may have to go to extremes to get what he truly desires. Answer your question?"

Caelen shrugged "it never does..." he took another sip of his whiskey, still drinking through the straw. "...why are you dressed up like somebody who just stepped off a medeval battlefield?"

"Feign strength through all this?" Andrew coughed at this "All the armour gives me a sort of protection. If I had the helmet on, I could dissociate myself from the party, be on my own even here." He sighed. "Even when I should be having fun... I'm still being antisocial..."

"I guess the only way to get away from that is stop whining about it and find some better company then a depressed CO that is hiding behind a mask" Caelen spoke, again rather blunt and hoping Andrew would get the hint.

"Heh, don't like the company of someone who's picking your brain and costume to pieces? Alright then, have a good night Captain." Andrew pushed himself off the bar, but instead of going back to the viewport, he began wandering around the bar, looking at people's costumes and trying to analyze why they chose what they did.

Caelen sighed and thought about it, perhaps leaving wouldn't be such a bad idea. But everyone wasn't even there yet, the Doctor and his family, their new Marine CO, an old familliar at that. And surely there would be more officers and enlisted people hopping in.


Cpt Caelen LaBrie Commanding Officer Starbase Ronin (SB47) "Sometimes You've Been Wearing a Mask for So Long that you Don't Remember who you were Beneath it..."

Ensign Andrew Kennedy Chief Counselor Starbase Ronin "I've become the thing I hated the most. Me in the past."