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Old November 7 2008, 08:08 AM   #6
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Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 2

Chapter 2:

Friday, November 25th, 2242
139 West Side Road
South Bristol, Maine, North America, Earth

Corry was right, it was colder in Maine. A lot colder. The wind was biting, and whipping along the coastal road as the cab deposited the two cadets in front of the house. The sky seemed to be clearing, though, the sliver moon catching a few glances down between cloud banks... sunlight was forecasted for the next day.

Scott pulled the edges of his coat a little tighter, teeth chattering despite his best efforts not to let them. The guy who'd driven them there seemed to like having a window cracked, and the ride from Augusta had been long, cold and silent for his part, mostly spent tuning Corry's aimless chatter out, something he had become an expert at. No books, nothing to fiddle with, just a head full of idle thoughts and most of them less than complimentary towards the driver. He was already beginning to regret this.

"Wow... man, it's a great night!" Corry grinned, setting his bag down and turning to the bay across the road where the tide was coming in. "Wouldja look at that..."

"I'm lookin' at that," Scotty answered, thinking that his nose was going to freeze off while Corrigan communed with nature or whatever he was doing. Still, he wasn't about to interrupt -- he'd heard more than enough about how much Corry loved Maine to understand what coming home would feel like.

Then again... South Bristol was on an island, and he was going to be a popsicle if he stood there much longer. "Corry..."

"Yeah, yeah, I know." Corrigan turned back away from the ocean and to the house, grabbing his bag. "Time is it?"

"0100. And not gettin' any earlier."

Corry smiled and hopped up the steps, taking his keys from his pocket and unlocking the front door. The two-story colonial wasn't dark, and the kitchen lights were on, but rapping on the door would doubtless wake everyone up. He stepped in, then tossed a glance back over his shoulder.

Maybe it wasn't so cold, Scotty decided. Suddenly he just felt utterly out of place, and wished he could transport back to the dorms. Why did he let himself get talked into this? He'd only met Corry's parents once, when they visited after the three-week summer break between one academic year and the next, and he sure as Hell didn't know them well enough to want to invade their house. "Maybe... I'll just go and..."

Corrigan sighed, walking back down and dragging the younger cadet up by an arm. "No time for chickening out now, Scotty."

"I'm not a chicken!"

"Then stop acting like one!"

Scott might have protested further, but then Corry's mother stepped out. "Shhh, boys..."

"Sorry Mom," Corry said, dropping his voice and letting go of his bag and his roommate to hug his mother. "Is Dad in bed?"

"He just turned in about an hour ago." She stepped back, smiling a warm, patient sort of smile. "Are you two going to come in before we let all of the heat out?"

Corry grinned, stepping past his mother and immediately heading for the kitchen door, off to the right. Scott fought down a cringe -- oh, God, he felt like some kind of invader or some sort of bloody leech, or something other than a Starfleet cadet -- and eventually gave into the idea of warmth and followed. The door clicking shut behind him didn't do much for his nerves, though. Not that he hadn't liked Corry's parents when he'd first met them, because they were such nice, hospitable types, but he sure felt like he was abusing the privilege now.

Corry's mother Melinda was giving him a look, and he got the impression from that alone that he wasn't the first unwitting victim dragged to this house. Shaking her head, she only chuckled, "Honey, standing there isn't any less dangerous than sitting in the kitchen. We only bite when provoked."

Scotty blinked once or twice before he figured out it was a joke. He just didn't expect parents to joke... his never did. Aunts, uncles and cousins, maybe, but never parents. Nodding, he found his voice somewhere, "Aye, sorry ma'am. Just..."

"He's a chicken, Mom," Corrigan said from the kitchen doorway, already holding a cup of tea and a warm turnover.

"I'm not a chicken."

Melinda tilted her head, suppressing a smile. "I don't know, Andy, I don't see any feathers."

"Plucked chicken?" Corry asked, shrugging.

"Not poultry at all," Scotty defended, shooting the other cadet a slightly mocking smirk, "Andy."

Corrigan returned the smirk without skipping a beat. "Then stop acting like it, Monty."

Melinda watched the short battle, amused, and pushed past her son to step into the kitchen. "Andy, why don't you come over here and put that engineering education of yours to work? This thing won't heat up."

"But Mom..." Corry looked down at his turnover, then his tea. He sounded almost like he was on the verge of whining; by the time he looked back up, Scott was already past him.

"What sort o' power source?" Scotty eyed the oven, kneeling in front of it. If Corry wouldn't let him have his books, maybe he could at least do something.

Melinda turned on the overhead light. "Regular old electricity. I've been meaning to get one of those new hydrogen-based ovens, but I just haven't had the time, with Rachel wanting to visit all of these different colleges." She sat down at the kitchen table, watching.

"Ye'd only need one o' those if ye were plannin' on cookin' a whole ox." Scotty grinned briefly at the mental image of Mrs. Corrigan trying to shove a whole ox into the oven, but that passed before he had the chance to laugh about it. Pulling his penlight out of his pocket, he turned it on and halfway crawled into the small space, looking at the connections between the heating coils and where they drew their current. That was probably the problem there, since the rest of the stove worked... the metal wasn't conducting the current right. Primitive; he was used to working with matter and antimatter, with plasma-based impulse engines. It had been awhile since he tackled a kitchen appliance.

But then, everyone started somewhere. He'd torn down a bad intercom box for his first project, somewhere about when he was five, or was it four? But it had just fascinated him, the way a person could push a button and talk to someone across the house or across the country, or across an ocean, or all the way up in space. Just by pushing a button. So when he'd come across that old piece of machinery down in the basement, he'd sat there with his father's tools and tried to learn how it did what it did and why, and every little thing. Of course, it hadn't worked like he might have wanted it to, and he had no idea how to take that thing apart right back then, but it was a start. After that, his family had tried pretty hard to keep the household technology where he wouldn't find it.

Never worked. There was always something to be opened up. Balancing himself on the side wall, he stuck the penlight in his teeth and pulled out a screwdriver... one of the few tools still used in the modern engineering trade and something he always had. Just sort of pry the thing loose, don't actually touch the charge on the other side, might be a wee bit of a shock, and that wouldn't be good. He could faintly hear Corry and his mother talking, but didn't pay it much mind. Afterall, it was more important to fix this than try to converse, and he would be the first to admit that talking was not his strong point.

He scraped at the end of the heating coil, shaking his head slightly at the carbon buildup on it. It was old, probably older than he was, come to think of it. Hrm... odd thought. Just odd.

Bit more, should have it done. The oven was stuffy and not entirely comfortable, what with the way he was balancing, but tight spaces were never a problem for him. Engineers had to be able to work in tight spaces... access crawlways, underneath equipment, and that should do it! Grinning again around the light in his teeth, he carefully pushed the coil back into the back panel, listening for the telltale click of connection. It must've worked how he expected... within ten seconds, he was being cooked himself and skittered back out of the oven before he could become Thanksgiving dinner instead of the turkey. "Got it."

Corry mimed looking at a watch, teasing, "Wow, a full five minutes. I think you're slowing down in your old age, Scotty."

"Didn't see you jumpin' to the rescue, Corry." Standing, Scott brushed his hands off on his trousers absently, once his light and screwdriver were back in their appropriate pockets.

"You're an angel," Melinda said, offering a cup of tea and giving her son a brief, pointed look.

Scott took the cup, wiping the dust from his not-often-used charm with a winning smile. "Not in the least, ma'am." He could feel Corry's glower and tried not to snicker. Sometimes, though, it was nice to pull one over on the other cadet -- God only knew it just didn't happen all that often.

"Kiss ass," Corry snipped, and was rewarded with a light whap upside the head from his mother.

"Honestly, Andrew Jacob, you would think that after all of that Starfleet education, you would be willing to fix the oven yourself and not leave it to your guest." Melinda didn't have much of an edge on her voice, but that could have been because she had turned to setting the temperature.

Corrigan rolled his eyes, sipping at his tea before answering, "Mom, he's my roommate, not a guest. He's the guy who leaves his boots where I'll trip over 'em every other damn day, and insists on staying up all hours of the night talking to himself--"

"While ye sit over there and chatter about Maggie an' leave yer half o' the room in complete shambles, then borrow my tools when yers get lost in the maw--"

"After I get done trying to talk you into going to bed at a reasonable hour so the workbench light's not keeping me up, and after I get done throwing your boots in the closet where they belong--"

"Even though my boots're the only things that I don't bother to put away--"

"Instead leaving them in the middle of the floor--"

"All right, gentlemen," Melinda finally broke in, closing the oven door on the turkey and turning to give them both a look. "If you're going to argue all night, you can sleep outside."

"Sorry, Mom," Corry answered, practically in unison with Scott's, "Sorry, ma'am."

"Go drink your tea, then go to bed."

They didn't even make it to the livingroom before they were taking potshots at each other again.

The ray of sunlight crept from the window's edge across the wooden floor of the living room, over the couch, settled across one corner of the room, went up over the end table with the half-full cup of cold tea on it, and finally, over the sleeping cadet in the recliner. He didn't move, didn't so much as twitch, knowing somewhere in his subconscious that there wouldn't be a class to get to, that he was warm and comfortable, and that he could take his time coming back to the world of the living.

Needless to say, Scott didn't spend much time sleeping. He could go three or four days on pure concentration, so wrapped up in a project or a theory that sleep never crossed his mind. It wasn't that he didn't get tired, he just never noticed. When he finally did crash, he slept like the dead until he had to be awake for his first class of the day at 0630, and was up again without much effort. But for the moment, there wasn't anywhere to be and there wasn't a thing to do, so there likewise wasn't much point in waking up.

It was finally the sounds of ceramic or china or something otherwise plate-like that pulled him from the black, heavy, dreamless sleep he'd fallen into. Blinking a few times into the bright light flooding through the window, he frowned slightly to himself and was looking around for a clock when he sighted one of the prettiest girls he'd seen in a long time... or at least, since he'd been in Historical Engineering with Maggie yesterday. Deductive reasoning might have told him that this was Rachel, Corry's younger sister, but just waking up all he knew was that she had long legs, blonde hair, and looked damn good.

"Don't even think about it."

And speaking of Corry... "Think about what?"

"She's way too young for you."

Scotty managed to turn his head enough to see Corrigan, who was kicked back on the other chair in the shadows. "Too young...? I'm twenty! Ye'd think I was a bloody geezer, the way ye're talkin'."

"She's sixteen!" Corry waved a hand, as if he could throw the entire notion right out the window. "Besides, she has a new amour every week. You'd be number thirty-six, or something."

Scott didn't see anything really wrong with that, but by the time he looked back, the lovely Rachel was gone, and he was pretty sure that any attempts to flirt would be headed off at the pass by her older brother. Not that he was a very good flirt... every time a girl showed more than a passing interest, his brain stopped working. "Lookin's not a crime."

"Do yourself a favor, and don't. She'll just break your heart, and then you'll blame me."

"Nu uh."

"Dinner's almost ready."

"Really?" Scott was quite proud of himself for not asking if Rachel would be on the menu. He knew that would earn him a crack upside the head quicker than he could get the question out; much as he had found a great hobby in needling Corry, it wasn't worth being smacked.

Corry had gotten pretty good at reading his expressions, though, and narrowed his eyes. "Ohhh, just go and get washed up, and if I catch you eyeing her up again, I'm gonna put you headfirst through the incinerator."

"Yes, mother," Scotty answered, a bit snippily, and in a good imitation of Corry's voice. He crawled out of the massive chair, stretching out and trying to remember how he'd fallen asleep downstairs instead of up in the guestroom. The last thing he could remember was Corry talking to his mother and that was it. Rubbing at his eyes one-handed, he grabbed his boots and carryon with the other and headed upstairs.
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