Gun Brooke MirAndy/J7 Fanfiction Advent Calendar

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Below the Surface


Door 3  


“Please. Take a seat anywhere you want.” Miranda motioned toward the sofa group.

Annika glanced at the set, but then opted for one of the visitor’s chairs behind Miranda’s desk. So, not a creature of comfort. Well now.

“Do you mind if I record our sessions, Annika?” Miranda held up a small tape recorder. “I assure you only I will ever listen to these. If you at one point want to have them erased, I will do so, no questions asked.”

“Sure. Why not?” Annika looked uncomfortable where she sat in her black jeans, tall boots, and knitted sweater, which she kept cinched in at the waist by a broad leather belt. She slowly put her rustic and chunky over-the-shoulder bag on the floor next to her.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Miranda sat down in her chair on the opposite side as Annika. “Tea, coffee, water, juice?”

“No, thank you. I’m fine.” Sitting straight without her back touching the backrest of the chair, Annika shook her head.

“Very well. Let me know if you change your mind.”

“I will. Now, how does this work, exactly?”

“This first session, I want just for us to get to know each other a little. There really are no rules to abide by, except of course patient-therapist confidentiality. Nothing of what you tell me, or what we discuss, will ever go beyond these walls.”

“Your assistant—Andy? Doesn’t she type out your notes?” Annika frowned.

“Andrea does not have access to any of my tapes or occasional notes. She handles the business side of my office.” Miranda was curious now. What had happened to make this, clearly very private, woman seek her out?

“I see.” Annika relaxed marginally and leaned against the backrest. She was very tall, almost six feet, with long blond hair in an austere, low ponytail. Ice-blue eyes framed by dark-blond eyebrows and black lashes, scrutinized Miranda, and her office, but gave nothing personal away.

“Why don’t you start with the reason you’re here? The symptoms, if you like.”

“I can’t carry out my job anymore. Or, I can force myself sometimes, but a new project is starting in ten days and I need to be able to join the crew with confidence.”

“What do you do for a living?” Miranda wondered if Annika knew how hollow she sounded, and how pained, when she talked about her job.

“I’m the dive leader for a team employed by Janeway Enterprise.”

Miranda nodded. She knew of the famous underwater explorer that had provided the TV audience spectacular films from the bottom of most oceans and big lakes. As far as she knew, Kathryn Janeway lived aboard her research vessel, anchored wherever the wealthy scientist worked at any given moment. Annika’s title was impressive. Not just any diver would be allowed to lead Janeway’s teams into the depth.

“I see,” Miranda said, then waited.

“I’m having great difficulty during underwater training. I can force myself to go through the exercises I’ve developed for pool safety training. When it comes to diving out to sea, I—just can’t. We were out two days ago, just to try out some new gear, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I have also developed severe claustrophobia, hence me walking ten flights of stairs just now.” Speaking matter-of-factly, Annika would have managed to look almost in control, if it hadn’t been for her still tightly locked hands.

“How long has this been going on?” Miranda kept her level glance on Annika, observing every micro expression the rigid-looking woman gave off.

“Three weeks.”

“And do you have any idea what caused these sudden bouts of fear?” Her voice gentle now, careful not to push Annika too much with all the questions, Miranda tilted her head as she regarded her client.

“No. Nothing has happened recently that I deem could be the cause.” Annika stood and began to pace, arms folded over her full breasts. “Janeway is planning a new assignment. Cave diving in New Zealand. Voyager is already there.”

“Excuse me. Voyager?” Miranda thought it sounded familiar.

“Janeway’s science vessel. She’s anchored in Deepwater Cove, expecting the team and me in eight days. We will prep and then the diving and filming commences two days after that.” Stopping in the center of the floor, Annika looked at Miranda with a pained expression. “I have worked for Janeway for three years and never failed her.” Balling her fists, she raised her chin. “You have to help me get over this…this thing!”

Miranda nodded slowly. “If you are prepared to do some hard work with me, I’ll do my best. As you can imagine, I can’t guarantee anything, but I do believe I’m your best shot considering the time constraint.”

Annika seemed to deflate some. Gripping the backrest of the visitor’s chair, she regarded Miranda with obvious torment. This was more than claustrophobia and sudden fear of water, Miranda thought. Such agony suggested something personal.

Door 4 will open on Dec 4, 2016