Timeline: Day 21 at 2017
"Commander Winters, do you have a moment?"
Halfway out of the Operations Centre, the familiar voice of Doctor Nyall Siana produced a barely audible groan as Commander Winters reluctantly turned back. Busy reviewing the latest updates from the engineers, she had not seen him amongst the few operations officers who had been assembled to help decipher the station systems. Yet there he was, his medical blues standing out as he rounded the central workstation and came towards her.
Aria stood with her hands clasped behind her back, more to avoid temptation than any formality. In truth, as she took in his torn and bloody uniform she couldn't quite decipher if she felt relieved or not to discover him here, amongst the survivors. Certainly he was an excellent physician. Someone who would be a great help to Dr Hill, especially now. On the other hand...
"Doctor Siana," she offered as she snapped out of her musings. "What can I do for you?"
"What can you do...?" he repeated slowly, expression incredulous as his voice trailed of. In a low voice, he inched closer, "I wanted to ensure you were alright. I checked and couldn't see that you had been checked over by any of the medical staff."
"I'm quite alright," she assured him. "A few bumps and bruises, nothing serious. I was fortunate. There are, however, plenty of the crew who I'm sure could benefit from your medical expertise. Including the captain."
"The only thing the captain needs is some sedation so she doesn't try to run before she can walk," Nyall told her as he folded his arms. "You are favouring your left side when you are walking. Not a lot, but a little. Look, I have a medkit right here, we can use that office you were in and I can give you a clean bill of health. Or -"
"Or?" she challenged.
"I let Dr Hill know he's now overseeing this little operation," he told her simply. "And you know I will."
She opened her mouth to protest. To call his bluff. But he was right. She knew him, for good or bad. And she had seen go over the heads of people far more senior than her if he thought it was right. She glanced at the office she had just vacated and sighed in defeat, "fine. You have five minutes. After that, I need to find something disgusting to eat."
Without another word she led the way, the doors to the office closing behind them to block out the noise of the work going on within operations. Not willing to let his advantage go, Nyall had hurried after her, his tricorder already in hand and taking readings by the time they were alone. He 'hmm'd' and 'ah'd' at random intervals, nodding to himself. "Nothing too serious," he declared as he set his med kit down on the table and pried it open, reaching for a dermal regenerator. "Some bruising and a little swelling round the old injury site, I can take care of that. No need to be a hero. Slip off your uniform jacket and face the wall."
Despite her withering look she complied. Turning away from him she waited for him to get to work, arms folded across her chest. At her impatient cough he sighed, Sliding up one side of her top to expose the heavy bruising. Testament to how everyone, even those who deemed themselves 'lucky' had been tossed around like ragdolls during the accident that claimed their ship and far too many lives.
"I didn't take this assignment to make things hard for you," he ventured after a moment, trying to break the awkward silence. "It was where they put me. I didn't even know you were XO until it was too late. Once we get back, I can request a transfer. Besides, the ship crash landing on my first day? It's a bad omen."
"We've had a few of those," Aria quipped. "All the back to... well, you know."
"Yeah," he nodded. "I miss them all too, Ari. And everything that happened afterwards -"
"No," Aria interjected firmly. "Please just do what you need to do, Doctor, so you can get back to your other patients."
The silence fell again, broken only by the soft buzzing of the dermal regenerator as it worked its magic. Nyall held his tongue. He was, he reminded himself, the one in the wrong. He had no right to make demands or shout to be heard. His behaviour had been unquestionably wrong. Finally he stepped back, "all done. It should feel a lot better. I have some analgesic I can give you?"
Aria shook her head, "not necessary. Besides, you should save it for your other patients. Resources are not in abundance right now."
He nodded as he packed up the kit, closed it over and slung it over his shoulder. "If you change your mind," he pointed as he headed for the door.
"I know where to find you," she said quickly. "And, Nyall? Thank you."
Half way out the door he paused, smiling as he glanced back. "I should thank you. I expected to have another broken jaw by now."
"It was tempting," she assured him. "Maybe next time."
He chuckled, rubbing his jawline before he continued on his way. All things considered, it had gone better than he could have hoped. He was no fool, under no illusions. What had once been there between them was gone. That intimacy, shredded by his actions. He couldn't change that. But he could always try to make amends however he could. And it seemed like the universe had conspired to have them stuck on this rock for at least a little while. Maybe the universe was giving him a sign?
Or maybe he was on a fast track to another broken jaw.