Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by SLWatson, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Now was very gritty, and very disturbing in that as a reader I had no idea what the backstory was, only that Scotty was obviously injured and trying desperately to fix something. It reminded me of the crash scene from Jeri Taylor's Mosaic where Janeway crashed with her father on that ice planet and was trying to survive despite being only moderately aware of where she was and what was happening to her due to her serious injuries.

    Nicely done. Strange and unsettling, but effective. :bolian:
     
  2. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    It is very gritty, yeah. And you're the second person to say that it reminded you of a crash scene! I've never had the pleasure of reading Mosaic (oddly, I can't seem to find a copy locally to save my life!), but I imagine that it's a pretty primal response -- survive, by the instant if possible.

    Thank you again for commenting!
     
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I’m up through Junkyard Dogs, Part II. Wow, talk about backstory and angst! :eek: Young Scotty’s a practical pariah in his family, though he’s probably never noticed, and the man largely responsible can hardly stop hating himself over the boy’s plight long enough to forge a relationship with the introverted youngster.

    This is damn fine writing, and a fantastically engrossing take on a character that I had previously thought had been explored to excess. Just great stuff!
     
  4. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Explored to excess?! My God, poor Scott's never given the spotlight unless it's to highlight his drinking, his brawling or his genius. Or to play plot convenience, or Kirk-lapdog, or some other awful role. :lol: Sorry. ;-) Seriously, though, when I started working on the first story for this seven years ago now, it was because here was this character who said a whole lot when he rarely said anything, and no one else seemed to even notice him past the cliches. He was my hero my whole life, no joke. Finally, since no one else would give him an honest tale, I tried my hand at it.

    Junkyard Dogs was a story I half knew, but never planned on writing. But I'm glad I did -- glad I got to know Jay, who's a good man despite his flaws, and glad I got to tell this tale here.

    If it's a compelling story, it's because it has a compelling star. I just do the storytelling, but he's the real drive.

    And, I'm rambling again.

    So, thank you again for the comments! They really make me smile. And if I go off on tangents, please forgive me.
     
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not at all! I guess Scotty never really piqued my interest as a character until I began writing about an engineer myself. ;) He always seemed to be something of a caricature, especially in the later movie era. Though I had to remind myself that whenever Kirk left Scott in charge of the ship, he always proved a cagy and effective commanding officer.

    Anyhow, I’m really enjoying coming along on your exploration of his backstory. Your work serves to give much greater depth to an underused and (as I stand corrected :lol: ) insufficiently explored TOS character.
     
  6. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    He really did, in the movie era, seem to be missing the second through fiftieth layers that made him a trip to watch in TOS. When I was young, I didn't notice as much, but as I got older I began to wonder where his grit and restlessness went. In TOS, he was layered and nuanced -- there's a lot to chew on. Another question to ask, for when I get to writing it: What happened to you?

    Thanks again for the comment! And for putting up with me going on and on -- he's just such a great character, and I kinda get going on explaining how I came to the conclusions I did, and why, and all that stuff. I hope you continue to like this series; it's definitely been a heck of a road.
     
  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Wow, the ending to Junkyard Dogs was heart wrenching. :( Jay’s not a bad sort, all things considered. Scotty could have done far worse. And ultimately, Jay’s involvement in Monty’s life, however brief, sent him down the road that would help him find his life’s work.

    On a completely unrelated note, I’ve got to ask, what did you think of Scott’s portrayal in TNG’s Relics?
     
  8. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Yes, he put ideas in that kid's head, and those are definitely an important part of the story. And Jay surprised me; I was amazed how much I came to really like him as time wore on.

    ...do you really want my opinion? LOL! No, seriously, because it's not exactly complimentary to the TNG crew, who I actually like most of the time. Or the writers. I'll be glad to give it to you, but wanna make sure you actually want it.
     
  9. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^I rather figured that might be the case. I wouldn't have asked otherwise. :D
     
  10. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    http://slwatson.livejournal.com/151584.html

    Here's part of it. ::smirks:: Can you tell I've been down this road?

    ...

    :alienblush: (Believe it or not, I do have a life.)

    But I'll add more to it if you want. I wanted to pimp-slap most of the NG crew in that episode.
     
  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :guffaw: Amen, sister! Don't mince words... how do you really feel?!

    Ashok gives that two thumbs up! :bolian: :bolian:
     
  12. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    ::coughs:: No, I don't mince words. I'm mostly politely midwestern, but am not really afraid to go all exorcist sometimes. But usually, I wait until I'm around a forum for awhile before I show that side -- don't wanna scare people. ;)
     
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I particularly enjoyed the one with McCoy, Spock, and Scotty all meeting. I especially loved the way you worked with McCoy--that definitely seemed like the kind of kid he would've been!

    One of the most interesting things about the Junkyard Dog story was that you could hear the local speech coming through in the narration as well as the dialogue, but without being obnoxious. I'm curious, have you spent a lot of time in Scotland or something?
     
  14. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You mention that Scotty would probably relate only to Spock. But it also occurs to me he'd have something in common with the crew of the Bozeman as well.
     
  15. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Thank you! McCoy's not my "main" character, but I really am continually intrigued by his backstory -- it's really compelling for a lot of reasons.

    No, I've never been to Scotland. ::chuckles:: Actually, I've only even been out of the US once, and that was just over the Canadian border when I was a child. But I much appreciate the comment -- one of the peeves I have is when authors (Vonda McIntyre, I'm looking at you) go and write this massively overblown accent for Scotty. Heck, his is really fricken tame, though that seems to prompt yet more people to complain about it. As to how I wrote it, I tried to stay pretty true to the regional accent of Aberdeen, and hear it in my head, and not go to any particular extremes with it. Thank you!

    I did? ::blinks:: I might have somewhere... Actually, I dunno even how well he would relate to Spock and McCoy (and they're both people he holds some extra-measure loyalty to, though for different reasons), after they lived seventy-five years he didn't; that would take some mental acrobatics to come to grips with. Still, out of anyone in the 24th century, he'd relate most quickly to them for obvious reasons -- shared experiences, events, being a part of the same crew for many many years, and sometimes even through life and death.

    It's true that the Bozeman is another temporal anomaly from a common era, but aside commisseration about the circumstances, not likely enough to overcome this entirely massive (fan ploy) sea-change. There's a lot to the answer, but it still comes back to the same questions: How do you define yourself? What's your purpose, your reason to keep breathing? What do you do, when you've lost everything you love? Most TNG-era authors who use him forget to ask -- they skip any of the rather intense questions that humans ask the universe or God or fate or whatever higher power when things go wrong, and automatically assume that he'd be fine fairly quickly. They don't think to ask what the real effect was of losing the Enterprise (no A), even though it was a willing sacrifice for Spock's sake and a better death for her than a boneyard in his mind, or losing his nephew, and then having the Enterprise-A be decommissioned, or having to break the bad news about Kirk (which either he or Chekov would have) to those who were far closer to the Captain. Nevermind just how different the universe was, from the time of the five-year mission and exploration and innovation, to the time of politics and more politics.

    There's a whole lot to the answer, but mostly it lies in asking questions and not trying to skip over them and assume that all will be peachy keen. I know how I see things happening, and eventually I'll write to that point, but I'd probably be thrilled if anyone even really put forth a genuine, thoughtful and compassionate effort that turned out totally different. At least that would be an effort to look at a man, and not the cliches or the cameo potential or the stereotypes, and you can never go wrong with that.

    I mean, look at how you got me to see the Cardassians in a completely different light! :hugegrin:
     
  16. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    About the accent, to me it seems Craig Ferguson has a stronger accent than Scotty does.

    Oh, I do agree about the questions something like that would entail. I just pointed out the Bozeman because frankly...I think it DOES help not to be alone in one's circumstances.

    And thanks for your kind words as well! (Do remember, though, that's just MY take on the Cardassians. A lot about them was left unexplored in official canon. ;) )
     
  17. SLWatson

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    He does, and a different regional variety. Scott's accent gets lampooned by people, but mostly because they assume that just because he's from Scotland, it has to remain utterly 'pure'. In fact, when casting for the new movie, they wanted a 'flawless' accent.

    Are you (general to them) kidding me? I went on about this at one point too -- voices are fluid. People do pick up bits and pieces of other accents and dialects over the course of their lives, and constant exposure to a standard 'midland' accent woulda rubbed off on him. Doohan always had some Irish in his voice, too; he was conceived in Ireland, and I chalk it up to Scotty spending a few years based in Belfast (where Doohan's family came from and likely sounded like while raising him).

    So, I kinda wish people would lay off his accent. I, personally, love it. It has a bit of Irish clip, on top of a base Aberdonian, and a definite cadence that's unique to him that, if you want an in canon explanation, evolved over years and was influenced by a lot of things.

    I agree! Depending on personality, anyway -- Scott's such an odd case of being rather solitary in a bridge crew that has two definite little groups. The trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and the mostly written grouping of Sulu, Uhura and Chekov, the 'younger' crowd. He's the oldest of the lot, too; McCoy is the closest to his age at five years difference. So, while you do have the potential of not being alone in one's circumstances, you've gotta ask yet another question: Would that make all that big of a difference to a man who was already a bit solitary, even among the crew he spent most of the time with?

    See, I always view canon as being definite on-screen presense, and everything else as being pick-and-choose. When someone writes something that makes sense to me, I have no trouble incorporating it into my own 'personal canon' and considering the author, often a fan-author, as having the definitve vision.

    Know what I mean?
     
  18. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Torn was well written and you easily conveyed Scotty’s sense of emotional freefall and dislocation from his family. Both were as disorienting as they were palpable. This poor kid isn’t comfortable in his own skin, let alone in his family, his country, or likely anywhere on Earth. I’m hoping Starfleet Academy will keep him so busy he won’t have time to fret about the many things tearing at him and demanding his attention.

    Your portrayal of young Scotty reminds me of a more focused, more brilliant, and infinitely less doofey version of Reginald Barclay.
     
  19. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Excellent catch, Gibralter! I have two (maybe three, if I can write soon) more stories in this set from his Basic Training, where he starts to actually shake off all of these influences that are yanking him in all kinds of directions. I should have posted the two that are done before now, but got caught up in watching the news and dealing with a cold me and my kids have.

    ::bows:: Thank you! I'm not a huge fan of Barclay (how does a psychological nightmare like him make it into Starfleet?!) -- Scott's a lot more compelling a character, methinks. At least, far more competent.
     
  20. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Processing

    Title: Processing
    Rating: G
    Words: 2642
    Timeline: June 2240
    Disclaimer: If you hadn't noticed in the above disclaimers, he's still Paramount's.
    Notes: One of a set of 'Basic Training' stories -- that particular group is not finished and only has two parts, though the second part is probably one of the more important ones. Edited by the Teddog. This is a look at Scott going through processing (and finding it beyond a surreal experience); kind of a darkish comedy of incredulity. Mostly, though, just very surreal, which I imagine it would be after living in one life for so long. Not particularly inspired, but hey.

    --

    The name 'boot camp' had fallen out of favor centuries before, mostly because it had some mildly negative connotations, versus the much more accurate 'Basic Training.' Some of the misconceptions about said Basic Training had fallen by the wayside too, long since -- at least when it came to Starfleet, recruits were generally picked for their ability to be as much explorer as defender.

    Regardless, a lot of rumors still persisted, and the biggest one was that it was a hard, intense experience.

    That was an understatement.

    The first part was the processing, which took place in Maryland. There, recruits were given their initial paperwork and a thorough physical and dental workup, as well as initial psychological testing. The paperwork was tolerable -- there was a ton of it, but a lot of it was repetition, and getting used to it now was probably wise because there would be even more of it in the near future.

    The physical was... less tolerable.




    Even if most physical exams were conducted almost entirely with tricorders and scanners, requiring no unnecessary contact or even much proximity, any sight of a doctor tended to make Scott's blood pressure spike. So, finding himself surrounded by other recruits, all of them almost mockingly calm, and likewise surrounded by doctors...

    His nerves were somewhat frayed by that point anyway. Leaving a rainy, cool Aberdeen had been an experience in itself, somewhat stilted and filled with trepidation. Then landing in the very warm morning sunlight of summer in Maryland had been a swift and real reminder that he was no where near familiar territory. He didn't have time to really debate on that, though, because immediately he was too busy to think. The good thing, of course, was that... well, he was too busy to think. Coincidentally, the bad thing was just the same.

    He had known that it would be like this, maybe even counted on it, but the reality was slightly more jarring than he expected.

    Without the time to get a bearing on things, either his surroundings or other people or any of it, he had a hard time feeling... there. Scott needed a certain amount of time to do those things, to assess his exact situation, and mostly he was very good at it. But this far outside of the life he had been living, it was too much to process and no time to do it, leaving him feeling more like he was on auto-pilot than anything else.

    On the upside, without time to deal with the feelings, he was at least able to keep his mind focused on the myriad tasks and get through them without balking.

    Until the physical.

    If it weren't for the fact that he had people behind him, he would have been out of there and probably out of the building before his rational mind overrode his instincts, all of which were screaming for him to be anywhere else.

    "You okay, man?" the recruit he'd just knocked backwards into a bit asked, sounding a little startled.

    The question at least snapped Scott back to rationality and he realized that he'd backpedaled. After a couple of breaths, he said, "Aye, thanks." And then he fell to fidgeting, not even realizing that he was doing it.

    The wait was over quick; the processing staff had this down to a fine science.

    "Little anxious?" the doctor asked, casually, consulting the tricorder.

    "Aye, sir," Scott replied after a moment, when he realized that he was going to have to get used to actually answering non-engineering questions and responding to non-engineering things out loud. He also finally noticed that he was still fidgeting and promptly clasped his hands behind his back.

    "Well, that's normal." The doctor didn't look up, just focused on his readings. "Skip breakfast?"

    "I dinna mean to," he said, and after that figured out that another 'aye' would have been a better response.

    "Mm," was the reply, confirming that thought.

    It was quiet after that. Lots of scanning, but nothing worse, and he didn't have to sit down, lie down or anything, which made it far easier to live with. It was the closest Scott had gotten to being able to think for a few minutes and try to grasp at everything that he was doing half-automatically. The sunlight was still very bright coming in through the windows, and the fact that the clock on the wall showed it was only now coming up on noon was kind of a shock. It felt like it should at least be into the afternoon, if not evening.

    He was able to tune out the number of doctors for awhile until the one that had been doing his workup came back.

    "Absent a few mild vitamin deficiencies, you're in good shape," the doctor said, handing over a card. "That's a lunch voucher; don't skip it."




    His arm was still a little sore from where he got the vitamin booster, but Scott didn't have time to really think about that, either. Lunch could have theoretically provided a period of recuperation from everything, but it didn't -- the cafeteria was packed, and even though he'd gotten a bit better about being around crowds at university, he still didn't like that much non-mechanical noise and movement. It was a bit like sensory overload; even when he was in university, he'd pack his own lunch and find somewhere quiet to eat.

    It was almost too loud to think -- staff and recruits everywhere and all of them talking. Not the steady harmonics of machines, but the much more chaotic patterns of living interaction. Snippets of conversation speculating on the Academy, strangers swapping names and stories with one another, a couple of them taking the chance to call home on the public comms, knowing that they wouldn't get the opportunity here soon.

    He didn't waste much time there; didn't have much to waste anyway. After the lines, crowds and actually sitting down to eat, he barely had time to return the tray and silverware before he had to go and do the next round of paperwork.

    Equipment requisition forms, transcript sign offs, background check sign offs...

    That took another hour or so, but at least the knot left from the shot had gone away.

    The psychology evaluation was next. Scott had been dreading it; the idea of some shrink poking around in his mind, diving right into his soul-stuff was really unnerving. He knew he had to go through it, though, because Starfleet wouldn't accept any nutjobs.

    Right?




    It was multiple choice.

    The psych evaluation was a multiple choice test. About two hundred questions, with four options to answer. Conducted in a large room with probably fifty other recruits. No shrinks. No mind-poking.

    He almost couldn't believe it.

    Scott wasn't sure if he was relieved by the fact that he wouldn't have to go through any mindgames a shrink would put him through, or if he was deeply disturbed that this was all the psychological screening that would be required to get into Starfleet. Even less sure because about half of the answers had no option that he felt would be appropriate, leaving him to pick the best out of what he thought were inappropriate choices.

    His head was buzzing some when he finished that, a kind of annoying sort of dizziness. He chalked it up to the heat -- it was probably getting close to eighty-five degrees out, something Aberdeen never saw, and the walks between the buildings were incessant.

    The last thing he had to go through before he could pick up his transfer orders, travel voucher, hotel voucher and food vouchers was the dental appointment.

    The physical had gone far better than he actually expected, given just how actively he disliked doctors. And the psych eval had been absurdly simple. And while he'd never actually been to a dentist, at least that he could remember, he figured that this would be the easiest part of the day.




    "Well, I needed a vacation," the dentist, a younger guy probably about thirty, said. He was cradling his wrist, but he sounded surprisingly nonchalant about it. "Maybe Bermuda this time."

    The dentist was a member of Starfleet, as evidenced by his blue uniform shirt. Over that, he wore a sort of pale blue lab coat. On first look, he was an entirely normal individual, utterly professional.

    Until he turned his back to get his profession-modified tricorder.

    Airbrushed on the back of his labcoat was a woman barely in a bikini, posed in the tropics and in the midst of dumping what appeared to be cold water on herself, with the string on the back of the bikini just come loose. If it were a sequential picture... well, it wasn't hard to tell what would come next, but it wasn't a bad exercise for the imagination regardless.

    If it weren't for the fact that he'd been so shocked by the fact that this guy could get away with wearing such a thing in uniform, Scott might have spent more time debating on frames two, three, four and five to go after the nicely painted frame one.

    The dentist must have noticed that look, but he didn't offer any explanations -- just chattered on about how many recruits he had already seen today, how good breakfast was at that restaurant off-campus, that kind of thing. Took time out in his recounting of his day to inform Scott that his mouth was in good shape, nothing needed filled, replaced or otherwise, but he'd probably have to have his wisdom teeth pulled when they came in, or they'd crowd the bottom teeth. Suggested a professional cleaning, though, since he'd never had one.

    Still trying to grasp at how that labcoat came into existence, and how this guy could get away with wearing it (and starting to speculate on the next scene that should logically come after the one already painted), Scott agreed.

    And that's when it became an incident.

    The first problem was that he had no idea that you actually have to lay down for a cleaning. Any speculation on the buxom beauty fled instantly when he was told to. At that point, he could have probably outright said no -- in retrospect, he should have -- but there were a million reasons why he didn't and none of them that could ever be explained in coherent words. So, he did as he was told.

    That alone was enough to make him jumpy. It was one thing to be on your back under a piece of equipment, working, but it was a whole other thing anywhere else. Especially if there was someone standing over you. There was never any good that could come from that kind of position, ever. It was the kind of thing that was so deeply, primally avoided that it wasn't even remotely conscious.

    Part out of willpower and part out of fear, Scott managed to hold still for all of fifteen seconds. Then the dentist reached over him to get the sonic cleaner, and the next thing Scott knew, he was across the room with his back to the wall, the dentist was holding a wrist and he had no clue how he got there.

    It was silent for about a minute, a tense silence at least in half of the room, a somewhat baffled one in the other half.

    It was broken when the dentist declared that he needed a vacation.

    "All right... the horror stories aren't true," he continued. "We don't use drills, we don't yank teeth unless there's a very good reason and then we replace all the important ones with lab-grown matches. We don't happy-gas people or poke them with needles full of novocaine anymore, we never use pliers and root canals are a thing of the very distant past."

    Still practically shaking from the adrenaline rush, Scott had to blink at that a few times. It was only after about ten more seconds of trying to comprehend what was being said that he realized that the dentist was trying to address a more common fear. But he just nodded, a bit dumbfounded.

    "You'd think our reputation would have gotten better after, oh, centuries." The dentist tried carefully flexing his wrist, then winced. "You must've heard some real doozies."

    There was no reply to that -- Scott hadn't, actually. As far as he'd figured, you only went to a dentist when you had a real problem.

    "So, the sonic cleaner is absolutely painless, it takes about a minute and a half overall, and you could always just tell me to knock it off if it bothers you." The dentist grinned, kind of wryly. "As opposed to making me."

    "Sorry," Scott finally said, more automatically. He didn't quite remember what he'd done, but it was pretty easy to piece together. "There goes my career," he thought. "Assault on a superior officer. Dinna even sign the final paperwork, yet."

    "Still want your teeth cleaned?" the dentist asked, jarring Scott out of his rather fatalistic notions of careericide.

    In the end, the answer to the labcoat was apparent when the buxom beauty depicted on it came in to take over; on her coat was the dentist, in a considerably less compelling if not similarly depicted scene. Turned out they were a husband and wife team.

    And it also turned out that it was far, far easier to hold still when the wife's finer assets were a close distraction. Who'd have thought?

    "Sprained wrist," the dentist had said to her, with a shrug. "Perfect time to go to Bermuda, honey. Put in the paperwork."




    The day ended with Scott picking up the rest of his paperwork, including directions to one of the hotels where recruits were put up before being sent on to San Francisco. By then, he was practically reeling; still kind of dizzy and now queasy too, but mostly reeling because it had been... well, the oddest day of his entire life to date. In about twelve hours, he had left Aberdeen, arrived in Maryland, filled out uncountable forms, took three different screening tests, managed to have lunch somewhere in there...

    He still hadn't honestly processed most of it. It was almost like it was happening to someone else and he was just along for the ride. Not just the actual events of the day, but even the hot weather and the clear sunlight and... none of it seemed all that real.

    For something that didn't seem real, it also seemed like it had been more like a year than it had been only hours.

    He unlocked the door to his hotel room, setting his luggage next to it, then locked it when it slid closed behind him. Leaned back against it to catch his breath; it really was hot out, compared to what he was used to. And he still wasn't exactly feeling well.

    The room was nice, though. Lots of pastels, but clean and comfortable. There wasn't more than a bed and a bathroom, and a screen to watch the news on, but it was...

    It took him a moment to actually realize that rush he felt. And to figure out why it was a good kind of rush.

    ...it was his. This room was his.

    Just for the night, admittedly. And he knew that he'd be stuck living with far too many other people when Basic Training started, because everyone lived in barracks where quiet and privacy were coveted commodities. He wasn't really looking forward to that.

    But... this room was his. Even if it was just for the night, it didn't belong to his family. It was his. By all accounts, the first place he would ever rest his head that was.

    At that realization, he smiled.