Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by SLWatson, Nov 23, 2008.

  1. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends

    --



    Even the attempted levity didn't really do much for the drive. It had been pretty cold in the skimmer until it had time to warm up; usually, it could be remote started and toasty by the time it was used, but they didn't waste time waiting for that, and didn't want Corry's parents to hear it running outside anyway.

    Corry had fallen silent, mostly focused on driving and probably some on seething. He didn't pay much mind to the speed limits; part of working on the skimmer last year had been disabling the computer that recorded its speed, a tattle system, and the other part had been adding a small sensor array that would pick up and disperse any scanning from law enforcement, either automated or otherwise. Scotty didn't have any real qualms about engineering either modification -- initially, just for fun. Now, apparently, they'd get a real test.

    He didn't venture to ask what kind of trouble Rachel was in. He'd only seen her a few times in the past few years; she was going to college in Boston, and didn't come back to Maine very often. He probably spent more time there anymore than she did. When she was around, she didn't seem the same as she had when they'd met and he'd briefly fallen madly in love with her -- she was more aloof, for one, and seemed to only be around because she was expected to be.

    At first, it had been easy to sympathize with that. But after awhile, he had to kind of wonder why she wouldn't want to be home.

    He didn't really pay attention to the speed or the drive. It was kind of funny to him, sometimes, that he'd never actually bothered to go and get a license for a skimmer. He could pilot a shuttle, and he'd even piloted a starship in a simulator, and he'd held the helm of a schooner in a gale, but he'd never actually gotten a skimmer license. Not that he hadn't driven one before. But he just never got his license.

    He was still a bit sleepy, even after the cold and the worry, and left his head leaning on the passenger-side window, mostly watching the narrow crescent moon. It felt kind of dream-like... surreal, in a way. A wee hours of the morning, way-too-fast drive down the coast, glowing dash lights, moon, silence.

    "She's high," Corry said, probably an hour into the drive. Like he couldn't believe it, and was pissed off about it, and scared, and not knowing what was going to happen. "Pretty new drug on the market called Tee on the streets. We were just studying this shit two weeks ago in class."

    Scott didn't even begin to know what to say about that, but he picked his head up and looked over, frowning.

    "This is stupid." Cor stared fixedly ahead; Scotty could hear his teeth grinding together over there. "What... I don't know. It's really Goddamn stupid."

    "Aye," Scott said. No doubting he agreed. It was hard to process the idea. Even harder to wonder what the Hell a drug would do for her, when she was going to college, and had a loving, supportive family at home, and how anyone could be idiotic enough to risk that kind of thing. Still, that line of thought was filtered a bit, even now, through that surreal cast. It was hard to believe. It didn't really work with how he wanted to view reality, even if it was reality.

    Cor growled, though Scott knew it wasn't directed towards him, just towards this... this madness, this stupidity that dragged them out in the dark hours to pick up an idiot girl. Corry because it was his sister, Scott because he wouldn't let his best friend go into a bad place alone.

    "You shouldn't be here," Corry said, after another few minutes of grinding his teeth.

    Scotty wasn't entirely sure how to reply to that one, either. But he gave it his best shot, crossing his arms. "Why? 'Cause yer sister's an idiot and ye don't want me knowin' that?"

    Corry spared only the briefest glance over, but it proved that he hadn't been thinking that at all. Then he went back to glaring at the road. "No."

    Well. It didn't take long for the real reason to click, but they didn't say anything else. Scott frowned to himself, going back to watching the moon.

    He'd never really connected with his own sister, not after they were older. There were any number of reasons why, some big, some small; the last time he remembered really feeling like she was there was when she was just a toddler, and it was before she got into art, and he remembered that he felt like he'd do anything to protect her even if she did steal his stuff. But it had been most of a lifetime ago now, and what little they did interact nowadays tended to be stilted or even outright hostile. He still tried, though, sometimes. Even if it usually ended badly.

    He didn't have any brothers, and hadn't really gotten to understand the concept of siblings from an adult perspective. For that matter, he hadn't even started understanding the concept of friends until he was out on his own; he'd been certain, for the longest time, that he didn't really need any friends so long as he had something to tear apart or put together or design or fix.

    He wondered if this was what it was like to be a younger brother. He thought that it was. It was easy to want to believe that Corry didn't want him there because Cor didn't want him seeing anything less than the happy side of that family's life.

    Except, it only took a look and a word to explain it, and the reality was that Corry didn't want him there because you don't put someone you try to protect into dark places. Yank them back out, maybe, but you don't put them in there.

    "Ye're not allowed to do that," Scotty said, decisively, though it surprised him when he did.

    "Do what?" Corry asked, his frustration fading for a moment in light of confusion.

    Scott gestured, aimlessly. "Ye're not allowed to watch my back at th' expense of yer own. It's give and take, or not at all."

    "It's not always that simple."

    "Still."

    Corry shook his head. "You're here, aren't you?"

    It wasn't for a moment that Corry wanted him to be, and Scott knew it. But it was a good enough answer for now. He let it go there.




    "I suppose it's a moot point to ask you to stay put," Corry said, calmly, as they stood in front of the house.

    "I suppose it is," Scott replied, surveying the building critically. It looked like it was about a month away from being condemned. A few lights were on, little shards of brightness that came through the holes in the dark colored drapes meant to keep prying eyes out.

    It wasn't really surprising that he wasn't the least bit apprehensive. Scotty wasn't sure what that said about him, that he could work himself into a nervous wreck around wonderful people in a beautiful town, but that he didn't even feel a flicker of fear at the idea of walking boldly into some drug house to retrieve a really stupid girl. He wasn't sure he wanted that answer, either.

    Cor had resigned himself to the fact that he had someone at his back, though he still looked unhappy about it. But after a few moments, he went into business-mode, and Scott knew Corry wasn't really afraid for his own safety either; any apprehension he had was for his sister and his best friend.

    Well, all right, they shared that.

    Corry didn't say anything else. He walked up to the door like he owned the place and pounded on it; Scott stayed a few paces behind to the right of his shoulder, waiting to jump in if anything bad happened. He would have taken point, but this would have to do.

    Nothing terrible happened. Some guy opened the door, obviously high, totally oblivious to the other people behind him screaming at him that he shoulda checked to make sure it wasn't the police for several moments. He turned around to tell them to shut up, then when he looked back, he got a face full of Corry, who spoke in chillingly normal tones. "Where's my sister?"

    "Whu...?" the guy asked, wavering back and forth some.

    "Rachel. Where is she?"

    "Oh. Man. She's upstairs. You her brother? That's really--"

    He didn't get much of a chance to say what that really was; Corry shoved him aside and walked in, and Scotty followed, picking up the vigilance his best friend had left at the door. No one really seemed all that interested in interfering, though. Half of 'em were strung out on some extremely ragged looking furniture, and all of them looked like they'd be lucky if they could recite the alphabet.

    Still, he kept himself on alert as they climbed the steps. Even if he could out-think these twits with three quarters of his brain missing, they still had him and Cor outnumbered at least five to one. He didn't pay so much attention to the actual surroundings, though this was the first time he'd ever been in this sort of place -- just stepped over the occasional body sprawled out in the hallway and kept on edge for any kind of attack.

    If there was any real apprehension, it was when they were checking rooms. The silent fear being that they would find Rach dead or worse in a place like this.

    Luckily, that turned out not to be the case. She was laying on a bed, alone, the long legs that Scotty used to admire nothing more than dead-weight hanging over the side. Corry stepped over, shaking her; she didn't really do much stirring, though. Just enough to swat at him.

    "I'll carry her," Cor said, still business-like, but the shaky note in his voice gave away just how badly this was bothering him.

    "Ayuh," Scott replied, and it had the effect he intended. Corry shot him a slightly exasperated look, but looked more centered after it.

    It didn't really take long. Cor slung his sister over his shoulders in an entirely unceremonious manner; no damsel-in-distress ride for Rachel tonight. It was only then that she really roused herself and started cussing dazedly at him.

    They both tuned her out. Down the steps, though her pissing and moaning managed to catch the attention of some of her buddies or whatever-the-hell they were. A couple struggled up, and the one who'd answered the door turned around and just about got in the way.

    Scotty pretty much had the empty, discarded whiskey bottle in hand before he even really knew he did; his mind caught up, though, and he smashed it on a nearby table, causing the entire group to jump. And without a blink, he tipped his head to the side a little and pointed the jagged neck of it at the guy in the way. "Step aside, or I'll gut ye like a fish."

    It was an even tone, and they must have realized that he meant it.

    He was still watching the door and still gripping the broken bottle when Corry came back from putting Rachel in the back seat of the skimmer.

    "Wolf..."

    Scott pulled his attention from the door and looked at Cor for a moment.

    Corry shook his head. "C'mon, Wolf. Let's go home."

    It was as much gentle warning as it was anything else, and then he had a past again; a before, to go with the now. Scott nodded, tossed the broken bottle aside, and headed back for the skimmer without looking behind him.





    The ride back was, if anything, quieter than the ride down. And that said a lot. Rachel fell asleep; Corry offhandedly related that she'd probably be sobered up again by the time that their parents were awake, and that was it.

    The moon was gone, and that just left them and the occasional groan from the backseat, and no sign of the sunrise. Just dashlights. The world was a whole lot sharper, though, in that way that things get clearer when you're really too burned up inside to think much, just observe.

    The road from Boston went from being new territory to being something more familiar; the last couple of legs, from Wiscasset, through Damariscotta, then down to Rutherford Island and South Bristol were the same as the road to Augusta. Scott wasn't too sure exactly when this had become familiar ground, and he didn't really devote any of his thoughts to trying to pick apart why it would feel like relief, being back in this area, and why (at the exact same time) he could feel such a spike of irritation at Rachel about it. It just was.

    It was only after they parked the skimmer, and just before he went to carry his sister in that Corry said anything, and then it was only two words. "I'm sorry."

    A million years and a million words wouldn't explain what that meant, but it was about brothers and dark places, and Scotty understood it anyway. And even if he would have had a million years to come up with an answer, it still would have been the same one:

    "I'm not."




    --
     
  2. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends

    --




    "Ye've gotta tell 'em."

    By that point, not even an hour before the light would really fade into the sky, Corry had already insisted Scott call off from work -- it had been another of those moments where they stared at each other, testing the seriousness of their respective stances, and Scotty was the one who gracefully bowed out of it. Give and take. Corry didn't want him working in space after a night like that, and he had plenty of personal leave time.

    This wasn't quite so easy or graceful.

    "Do you have any idea what that would..." Cor stopped himself, then paced a few steps in the kitchen, before stopping and trying again, "It's not that simple."

    "Didn't say it was. But ye'll not do her or them any favors by dealin' with it yerself."

    The idea of informing Melinda and Aaron Corrigan, two of perhaps the most decent, well-adjusted people in existence, that their daughter was a screw-up of the finest caliber wasn't a pleasant prospect. And Scott could definitely appreciate the strong desire their son had to just deal with it on his own, and not throw another big rock into the calm waters of their lives. If not for the fact that these people... these people mattered to him, he would have probably been perfectly willing not to pipe up about it himself.

    "How do I even do this?" Cor was on the jagged edge of nervous exhaustion, sometimes pacing, sometimes just stopping and staring off at something for a moment. He'd been handed a cup of coffee about a half-hour ago, and it was still full and now cold. "I... geez. I don't know. How do you even...?"

    "Preferably with comfort food close at hand," Scotty replied, half-joking, dragging things out of the cupboard. "Breakfast."

    Corry eyed him for a few moments, almost incredulously, but it went away. Then he shook his head with a tired chuckle, "Comfort food? French toast?"

    "Sure, if ye want." It really didn't make much of a difference what he had to whip up, so long as he could do something. Scott couldn't help but admire the organization of Melinda's cupboards; it was easily as neat as his own mother's kitchen, though admittedly, not quite as stocked with everything under the sun. "Anything else?"

    "Bacon." Corry thought about it, his agitation fading. There was a bit more to comfort food than the actual finished product -- the process of making it was the most important part. "Except for Dad, he likes ham."

    "Bacon, ham, french toast. Aye aye." Scotty smirked to himself as he set Corry's lab experiments out of the way to get the eggs in the fridge, then slid the crate down the counter. "Break up five o' those in a wide pan."

    Corry smiled dryly as he moved to do as he was told. "Aye aye."





    Corry wasn't very good in the kitchen, and he tended to be about two seconds away at any given point from a cooking catastrophe, but Scott didn't kick him out. Just kept intervening before breakfast could become a disaster, falling into a routine he'd never actually been a real part of in this house, and finding it about as absurdly comfortable as that damned recliner.

    These people were early risers, really; Aaron had retired from the SCE after the incident that nearly killed him, and had opened up a consulting firm in Damariscotta, which meant he was home far more than he used to be. He still took the occasional business trip, but his usual life now was to wake up early and go to work, then come home. Last evening, he'd done that and commandeered the vidscreen to watch the news for an hour, then he'd spent the rest of the evening in the kitchen talking to his wife over tea, the occasional sound of laughter making it back to the livingroom.

    Just like Melinda, he pretty much treated Scott as though he were just another member of this household, right up to delegating the occasional chore, and right down to an unstated and silent expectation that Scotty would keep himself out of trouble. It was next to impossible not to respond instinctively to that kind of thing. But in a good way, not in a whiskey-bottle-on-the-table's-edge way.

    "Did I miss a holiday?" Aaron asked, when he stepped into the kitchen and found them cleaning up from the cooking part of breakfast. Outside, the horizon over the bay was starting to just really get colorful, past the frozen windows.

    Scott shook his head; Corry did the actual answering, "No, Dad. But breakfast is ready. Coffee?"

    "Sure." Aaron sounded a little puzzled, but he wasn't given to all that many words and was probably waiting for an explanation as to why his son and his son's best friend had commandeered the kitchen.

    Melinda wasn't too long in following. She had the rather impressive ability to always look like she was awake and ready for things; Scotty had yet to see this woman genuinely frazzled. She could convey disappointment in a glance, and she could get pretty angry, but he'd never really seen her be anything less than fairly composed about it. He had to fight down two things at that realization: The first, a frown at the idea that even her composure was going to be shot by what was going to be said soon, and the second that he really wanted to go and read Rach the kind of riot act that would involve lots of words he almost never resorted to using.

    That fight got about fifty times harder when she was so grateful for breakfast, too. Wisely, he left the talking to Cor and just kept washing dishes. The ability to focus thought into action was a handy one to have. He was really more expecting that when this went down, he'd probably be kicked to the curb. Or, he wanted to expect that, even if somewhere deep down he was starting to have an unexpected faith that it would take a pretty serious crime on his part for these people to ever cast him out.

    The faith turned out to be right, in the end; after the halting explanation, still Corry's talking, and the silent backing-up of the facts on Scott's part, both of them temporarily ceased to exist. And when Rachel stumbled down, looking drowsy but sober again, it didn't take her a nanosecond to realize what had happened -- she stopped in the doorway, looked at her parents, then leveled a reproachful look at the two who had ratted her out.

    She got nothing but identical stony looks back.

    "C'mon," Corry said, one step above a whisper, and they made themselves scarce, leaving Rachel to face the parents alone.





    Hiding out down in the basement was sensible; it was quiet, out of the way, and they could do laundry. There was also a heavy bag down there to box with, but neither of them had the energy to throw any punches, even if there was plenty to be angry about. Or, there would be plenty to be angry about, but after the night and after the morning, it was hard to really feel much of anything but tired and wanting to not think much more about it.

    But they couldn't have stayed there forever; after the occasionally raised voices filtering through the floorboards above died off, Cor had found his humor somewhere, even if it was rather sorry at the moment. "C'mon, let's go test some cryonics."

    That didn't happen, of course; if anything, Scotty felt like a mummy in that many layers, and all of them aside for his own trousers too big on him, but he had to admit that it made sneaking out the back door and walking a lot less frigid and uncomfortable. Looked like a fisherman, too; Corry's civilian wardrobe mirrored his hometown, and even if he wasn't a native, Scott sure looked the part of Midcoast Maine.

    Felt a little the part of it, too. They ended up in the cafe, sitting at a booth, both of them with their legs stretched out on the seats and an arm on the table. Bookends. Very tired bookends, even with a carafe of coffee and two cups in hand.

    "I'm kinda surprised we're all still here," Corry said at length.

    "Why?"

    "I dunno. It's just..." Cor shook his head. "I don't know. I guess I probably wouldn't blame you if you never wanted to come back here."

    Scott frowned at that, looking over, though he only echoed his own prior question. "Why?"

    "Because," Corry replied, and managed to fill in all of the reasons in that one word.

    "Take the bad with the good," Scotty said, and he meant it. "Lab testin' on a kitchen table or tryin' to help stupid sisters."

    Cor chuckled at that, but only nodded. And they fell quiet again, but it was a comfortable kind of quiet. The kind you find when you're just too beat to really do much more than appreciate that you're still alive, still breathing, still in one piece even if you're not sure it was the same piece as it was the day before.

    After awhile, Scott pushed his coffee out of the way and propped his head on his hand; not a steady enough stance to sleep, but more than secure enough to drift there awhile, and not do any thinking about what would happen in the next hour or day, or week. Just knowing that the before was safe, and the now was the same.

    He was probably actually pretty close to being asleep at the table when he heard Corry sit forward, and that was enough to make him open his eyes and look over to make sure everything was all right.

    There was no mistaking that attentive look; Scott followed it himself and found himself looking at a woman up at the counter. Pretty, if not a little stocky; her brown hair was pulled back severely into a tight braid, and she looked like she could probably put up a mean fight if she were so inclined. He chewed down a grin and looked back at Corry. There was a different dimension to that expression, though -- it was like the far deeper cousin to the infatuation they'd both shown towards Maggie back at the Academy. "Who is she?" he asked, keeping his voice down.

    "Abigail Hanson," Corry replied, not looking away from her.

    "Really?" Scotty had to look again. He remembered Corry had once pointed her out as one of Rachel's friends, years ago now, but it had been at a distance. Though, he remembered her looking a lot more fragile then than she looked now. "Followed her father?"

    "Kinda. He was a marine, she's shore patrol. Her Dad still lives here, but..."

    "But ye haven't gotten the nerve up to ask her out?"

    Corry managed to tear his attention away from Abigail long enough to give his best friend an irritated look. "I'm working on it, I'm working on it!"

    "Right." Scotty got to his feet, and was thoroughly amused at the horrified look Cor gave him. He didn't even make it two steps, though, before Corry had gotten up and dragged him back. "What? I was just gonna ask if she wanted some coffee," he said, innocently, though he didn't put up a fight. That might end with him in a headlock.

    "I'll ask her out, I swear. But gimme a little time, okay?"

    There was enough sincerity in the exasperated plea. After a few seconds of pretending to think about it, Scott let Corry off the hook and sat back down. But he still found it kind of funny that Corry watched her all the way until she was out the door again. There was something about the whole thing that felt like hope.

    And for a moment, he was aware of the before, and the now, and in a way that was almost wonderful, something down the road that was only an impression. But a good one.

    Maybe even a great one.

    It didn't last long, but it lasted long enough.





    The Enterprise had already been launched back in late November of the prior year, but despite the fact that he missed her being in the Fleet Yards, Scott was still able to focus pretty much on the work of the day, and the occasional dream that one day when she left, he'd be going with her. Nonetheless, there was enough to tie him to Earth that he didn't pine too hard; far less than he ever would have expected before all of this, when everything in him was focused entirely on getting out amongst the stars.

    He still had no intention of living his life grounded. On the other hand, it was starting to dawn on him that no matter how far he ended up getting from Earth, some part of him would be tied back to his home world. And back to Maine.

    There was no neat and clean ending to the whole mess with Rachel; a week later showed no resolutions, just that it would be an ongoing process and that life would continue regardless.

    Corry showed up in the Fleet Yards at the end of that week, something that sort of shocked Scotty, who had been expecting to finish up his usual shift plus half another and then just go planetside tomorrow on his day off.

    "Figured I'd keep you company on the way home," Cor said. "Well, that and things are still a little stilted in the house. But not like it was the first few nights."

    "No surprise there. But I wasn't plannin' on headin' down 'til tomorrow." Scott dropped on his bunk long enough to start pulling his EV suit off, after he tossed his gloves on the table. He'd worry about making it all neat later.

    "Plan's changed, then." Corry grinned, setting the bag he'd brought along on the table beside the gloves, and was awarded one of those 'what else is new?' looks. "Plus, I've switched my focus from testing the cryonic capabilities of island winter to testing the protective factors of insulation on skin cells by proper island attire."

    "In English?" Scott asked, getting his suit off, and feeling a quick chill when he was back down to his usual uniform.

    "Mom went and got you a proper wardrobe. She said that you're not allowed to wander around Maine without being dressed for it."

    Scott shook his head, a little exasperated if not touched. "She didn't have to do that..."

    Cor shrugged. "Take the good with the bad, right?"

    "I'm guessin' no protests are allowed."

    "Good guess."

    Scotty just nodded; give and take, fair enough.

    "And I picked up the sequel. Radioactive Vulcan Zombies, II," Corry paused there dramatically, then in a loud whisper added, "The Return."

    Though, in that moment, Scott wondered wryly just how far that philosophy had to go.
     
  3. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends

    Wow...a 23rd-century crackhouse. Some things never do change. :( Very powerful scene there.

    And the interactions between Corry and Scott are just excellent as usual. Glad to see him really starting to become part of this family even to the point of being there through the worst.

    And...wow. B-movies. :rommie:
     
  4. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends

    I find it impossible to believe that things like drug abuse and alcoholism would be entirely stamped out. I think that they'd be decreased quite a bit, but there are still psychological factors and social factors that you can't just stamp out; these things would exist. I think the world there is a better place in a lot of ways, but certainly not this perfect utopia where nothing bad ever happens, where people don't ever fall between the cracks (or dive there willingly, even).

    Oh, I adored the interactions in this. The light stuff, and the dark stuff. I loved that Abby got introduced, and that all of the unspoken stuff was still a real and present thing.

    Thanks so much for the comment!
     
  5. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Title: Lobster Wars
    Rating: PG
    Words: 1797
    Timeline: 2246
    Disclaimer: One's Paramount's. Guess which.
    Notes: No lobsters were harmed in the making of this fic, even if a few didn't survive the fic itself. And yes, I did have way too much fun writing this. Originally posted here.

    --

    "AHHHHHH!!"

    There were a lot of bad ways to wake up. He'd known a few in his day. But until now, Scotty had never, ever known that it was possible to wake up in a horror movie.

    Which was why he was in the corner of the living room, back to the wall, gasping.

    It was also why Corry was on his ass on the living room floor, holding a very large, very living lobster, laughing so hard that tears were running down his face.

    "What the Hell was that?!" Scott asked, once he managed to get enough air back to do so. His voice was still about a half-octave higher than usual. He didn't wonder how he got from the recliner to the corner. The end table laying on its side might have had something to do with it, though, as well as the messed up floor rug.

    Corry was still laughing, as though he had just discovered the greatest joke in the universe. It was a whole minute before he answered, "We agreed we should make Mom and Dad dinner for their anniversary..." He broke there to laugh again, happily oblivious to the razor blades being glared at him. After another thirty seconds or so, he said, "I figured that you'd wanna meet the main course face-to-face."

    Face-to-face was an understatement. Lobsters weren't exactly nature's most attractive addition to the food chain, regardless of their taste, and waking up with one two inches from your nose was the stuff of nightmares.

    "Ye're a real dirty bastard," Scotty said, not coming out of his corner. He could cook lobsters; he'd done it before. Usually, though, they were right out of the stasis storage box, right into the pot, and there wasn't a chance to get to know them on a personal level. Especially not a right-in-your-face personal level. "Didn't anyone ever tell ye not to play with yer food?!"

    "Technically, I wasn't playing with my food," Corry pointed out, getting to his feet and holding the lobster in one hand, wiping his eyes with the other. He looked inordinately pleased with himself, too. "If you wanna argue semantics, I was playing with my parents' food."

    "Still!" Scotty huffed out a breath, finally feeling like he wasn't about to climb up the wall in the corner. "This some kind o' Maine thing? Shovin' lobsters into someone's face to wake 'em up?"

    "Nope! It's purely a crime of opportunity." Cor looked at the lobster, then, cooing at it tenderly, "You did really good, boy. I don't think I've ever seen anyone move that fast."

    If it weren't for the fact that Corry was holding dinner, Scotty would have given strong consideration to showing just how fast he could move. Preferably involving fists. Or, at the very least, a good head-lock. But he didn't feel like getting any closer to that entirely spineless thing until he had no choice. And he didn't want to get too close to the lobster, either.

    He didn't really have anything more he could say. It was a cowardly but elegant coup. Trying to save what was left of his dignity, he just gave Corry a wordless growl, then stalked off to go find coffee, get cleaned up and start the day in a more normal manner.

    He did not, however, plan on forgetting this.





    The lobsters were extremely fine specimens. There were two of them, sitting in some rather cold salt water inside of a large cooking dish, inside of an old lobster trap. Like kind of an obscene 'let's test drive this dish here' thing. They were pretty calm, really.

    "Stop lookin' at me like that," Scott muttered, as he worked in the kitchen. "Everyone says ye can't feel pain. Besides, it'll be over in what, a few seconds?"

    The lobsters, of course, didn't deign to respond in any way. He supposed that they were probably just looking at him because they followed movement and he was moving. But it still felt a bit accusatory. Or maybe pleading. This was much easier when you just pulled 'em out of a stasis box and they didn't even have time to actually realize what was going on before they landed in the boiling water. Let alone stare at you.

    The clam chowder was already at the simmering stage, and being this close to the ocean, he'd made it all from scratch. Dessert was almost done; Scotty wasn't as handy at baking, but he could still make due, and had gone for something likewise traditional -- blueberry coffee cake, or a good attempt at it.

    That really only left one thing to do. The time was ticking down.

    He checked everything else again. For the fifth time. He knew he was stalling, but for some reason, the idea of tossing those two lobsters into the boiling water after spending a few hours in their company was really getting to him.

    Corry was out getting the wine and coffee for this little anniversary gift. It had not taken him more than an hour to realize that Scotty was still a bit miffed about waking up that way, so he went out to get everything that wouldn't need to be done 'in house' and was apparently taking his good sweet time coming back.

    "'We should make Mom and Dad dinner,' he says. 'Can you cook lobster?' he asks." Scott sighed, looking at his two victims. "Lads..."

    The lobsters looked back.

    "Bloody Hell."





    "You phasered a lobster?!"

    Scotty guiltily hid the phaser behind his back, once he got done jumping out of his skin.

    Corry stood in the kitchen doorway, holding the wine bottle in one hand, and a grocery bag in the other. He looked thoroughly incredulous, too.

    "I, uh... well, ye know..."

    "You do realize they don't feel pain, right?" Corry still seemed to be a bit flabbergasted, though he got over it enough to set the wine and bag on the table. "They can't feel pain."

    "I just stunned 'em," Scotty replied, setting the phaser on the counter and feeling a bit sheepish. "I mean, just in case."

    The phaser was Corry's; it had been the one they'd had in the mold loft back in the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, that someone had stolen just because from Security. It was disabled previously, intentionally, but it had been nothing for Scott to fix it. It had just enough juice in it to stun a pair of lobsters prior to throwing them in the pot. He wasn't sure he could have done it if he hadn't gone that route.

    Now, his unwitting companions were quite dead and quite red, and Cor was looking somewhat amused. "I'm gonna take you lobster fishing someday. Really lobster fishing, on a commercial boat."

    "Aye, well, ye're the one who wanted me to have a face-to-face, antenna-to-eyebrow meetin' with one, so..."

    "I've only got myself to blame?" Corry chuckled, going over to sniff at the clam chowder on the stove and then finding himself shoved back before he could purloin any. "I guess it's okay, if it saves your conscience."

    "So nice ye agree, there." It was a lot easier to toss them in after he'd phasered 'em, but even then it was a very solemn moment.

    Cor shook his head, smiling a bit. "In fact, I think I'd probably be shocked if you'd just gleefully thrown them in there. C'mon, Mom and Dad are gonna be home any minute now, so we better finish this up."





    There was some glee at throwing lobsters in the immediate future, though. Of course, Scotty did not tell Corry that. Once Aaron and Melinda got back from their trip to Florida via Boston, they'd had a Hell of a fine dinner, and after they retired upstairs to bed, Corry decided to finish off what was left of the white wine that had gone with said dinner.

    There was over half a bottle there, and Scott silently had no problem encouraging Cor to kill the rest of it. In fact, he was quite content drinking tea and pouring the glasses for his best friend, who didn't seem to really think twice that he was getting a bit tipsy, where Scotty was staying utterly sober.

    White wine wasn't the single best thing to create a bad hangover, but it served its intended purpose. After the bottle was gone, Corry half-stumbled off to bed, and Scotty slipped out of the house like a bandit.

    It was a long night to spend around South Bristol, especially since it was still winter, but he wanted to be at the co-op first thing when it opened. Sure, he'd have to try to catch up on his sleep later, but it was worth the sacrifice. Extremely worth it. It was even worth the insane amount of credits he had to spend in order to make this purchase in the off season.

    He also called the cab from Augusta from the harbor master's office, timing it impeccably.

    When he tapped lightly on the door, knowing the family schedule well enough to know Melinda would hear him and answer it, he was absolutely at the top of his game.

    She opened the door, then frowned. "Were you out all night?"

    "Aye, ma'am," he replied, and hoped that she wouldn't give him too much trouble. She had been less than happy with her son when he'd bragged about his unorthodox wakeup call yesterday, so it was a toss-up how she'd react to this.

    She eyed him, then eyed what he was carrying. "Do I want to know what you're about to do with those canners?"

    Scotty shook his head, slowly. "No, ma'am. I'm certain ye don't."

    There was a long moment where she obviously debated on what the right course of action would be. And then she stepped out of the way, giving him a very serious warning, "No one better get hurt, Scotty."

    "No, ma'am. That's why I left the bands on," he said, just as seriously.




    It was a foregone conclusion that Corry was a bit hungover, just listening through the bathroom door at his zombie-like groan. The shower was running, and Scott was glad that he'd timed this as well as he had -- his cab was waiting right outside so he could beat a retreat to Augusta, post haste, and by the time Cor got over what was about to happen to him, it'd be too late for any physical violence to come from it. At least, not unless Corry decided to chase Scotty all the way back into orbit.

    Though, when this went down, Scotty wouldn't have been too surprised if that was exactly what ended up happening.

    He crept into the bathroom, looking down fondly at the ten little, barely legal-sized lobsters in the box he was carrying. "Do me proud," he thought, not daring to say it outloud.

    And then, without a pause, he upended the box over the top of the shower curtain, dropped it, turned and ran like Hell just as the first shrieks started.
     
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, man...I about fell over laughing at several points in this story!

    "But he didn't feel like getting any closer to that entirely spineless thing until he had no choice. And he didn't want to get too close to the lobster, either."

    AAAHAHAHAHAA!

    And even better--stunning the lobster! I admit, I'd have qualms about just throwing them into the pot, too!

    But that last bit...priceless! :rommie:
     
  7. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Thanks! I had way too much fun writing this one. In fact, the entire story started in my head when I could hear Corry asking, in shock, "You phrasered a lobster?!" From there, it was all downhill. ;)
     
  8. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Mothers and Sons

    Title: Mothers and Sons
    Rating: G
    Words: 1679
    Timeline: 2246
    Disclaimer: Paramount's, on some part; mine on the rest.
    Notes: A look at mothers, sons, brothers... and the heartbreak that goes with someone going off into space. Takes place at the beginning of the Four Years War. (If anyone decides to tell me that's not when that war happened... prove it. No one can agree on when, so this made sense to me.) Originally posted here.

    --

    They always said that he favored his mother. And as he watched her from the doorway of the kitchen, Scott had to kind of agree with it. He'd never really drawn any lines like that before; didn't often spend time asking himself where he got what and from whom, but as he watched her move around the kitchen, he could see a few elements of himself.

    Maybe, though, what bothered him was that he didn't see as many as he expected.

    They shared coloring; black-haired, brown-eyed, somewhere distantly Irish colors. And in the kitchen, she moved with the same sure-footed confidence that he did in an engine room. Focused and indistractable. But where he was almost always aware of where other people were in relation to himself, she didn't see him there.

    Fidgeting briefly, he spoke up. "Mum?"

    She didn't startle; another thing they didn't share. But turned and beamed him a smile that was a more feminine mirror of his own, dusting her hands off on her apron. "Aye now, an' who's that handsome lad standin' in the door?"

    Despite himself, he chuckled at that, casting a joking look around. "I don't know, there's only me. Must be seein' things."

    The corners of her eyes crinkled and she tipped her head to the side, looking as much confused by the humor as she was measuring him; another quiet mirror. "I'm glad ye showed up. I'm just in th' middle o' makin' up the dishes fer that charity drive in town, but if ye've got some time, we can catch up when I'm done. Yer sister an' father'll be home in an hour. I dinna know what their plans are, though."

    He shook his head. "I don't," he said, and in that split second was aware of the 'don't', and consequently the 'can't' and 'won't' and all of the rest that had become a natural part of his own voice. "Time o' departure's in an hour; I have to report in about a half."

    "Oh." She wasn't disappointed. She just smiled again, and it was a warm look. "Well, I'm glad I got t' lay eyes on ye then. Charlie an' Edward'll not believe how much ye've grown."

    The naming dynamics of this family were peculiar at best. Most people automatically assumed that Caitlyn Scott was her married name; it wasn't, it was her maiden name, which she kept simply because she was established under it when she and his father married. His father was the Stuart, and his sister. He'd never figured out why his own name was drawn from her side of the family exclusively, just like his coloring. Montgomery for his grandfather, Edward for her oldest brother, and then the Scott family name.

    And for reasons that he didn't often think of, he was glad of that.

    "Probably not," he said, snapping himself back to the moment at hand. "I don't think I've seen 'em for..." He wasn't sure how long. "A year?"

    "Aye, well, if anyone'd understand, it'd be those two brick-heads." His mother turned back to her cooking, with a fond and distant smile. "Ye couldna pin them down. Always off gettin' into trouble. I couldna keep up with 'em."

    Even though he didn't get why, that struck something inside of him. He loved his uncles, despite the fact he didn't know them very well, despite the fact that they were pranksters and tricksters and less-than-responsible for their ages. But when they were together, being entirely bad influences on each other, it was obvious that they'd follow each other into Hell or back, and that for all their surface bluster, they took their role as brothers seriously.

    And they loved their little sister. But she was outside of that fraternal tie.

    He absently stepped over to the counter and took his position as her souse chef, even if he had to leave soon and get to the transport station. The Denevan run. He'd been let off corrective action early when war broke out with the Klingons; Starfleet scrambled for qualified people and pulled them off of the cargo vessels and the science missions, leaving spaces to be filled by ensigns. Which he would probably be until he was fifty, given his record, but at least now he'd be in space.

    He felt selfish.

    He'd only been back to Aberdeen every few months, and then only briefly, ever since he'd been assigned to Lunar and then later the San Francisco Yards. By contrast, knowing he was on borrowed time when war broke out, he had spent as much time as he could in South Bristol, with that family that still scared him a little, that he would give anything or do anything for.

    Felt a little like he'd failed utterly to be the good son he was supposed to be.

    "Ye'll be careful out there, ye hear?" his mother said, and he nodded dutifully. He would be. He doubted that there would be much trouble, but he would be.

    Melinda Corrigan had said nearly the same thing, and had held onto him so hard that it was almost impossible to breathe, and there were few things that... that hurt quite like seeing someone who had no reason whatsoever to give a damn about you with tears in their eyes. It was the first time that he'd returned that affection; held on back, and felt messed up and off-balanced. Nevermind the mess that Cor had been. Aaron, former engineer himself, had taken it the best -- a handshake, and a quiet nod of encouragement, but even that meant something.

    He never doubted that his own mother loved him. When he was a wee thing, she'd sing him lullabies; when he got a little older, some of the happiest memories he had of his childhood were her teaching him how to cook. Not so much because he liked it at the time, but because he was there with her, and it was just them and this shared talent. And he was fine with that, because that was how things were -- he'd never known anything different. He was only rarely home in his teenage years, and that was fine too.

    That was the way things were.

    He would be careful because he knew his mother loved him. But also because he knew, in a way that made him feel half-terrified, that across the ocean in a little town in Midcoast Maine, there were people who would miss him terribly while he was gone.

    "Mum," he said, and he was surprised at the crack in his voice.

    "Aye?" she asked, and again gave him that look like she didn't quite understand; the look that mirrored his, the lack of understanding that no longer did.

    He got an arm around her, hard, and kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks for teachin' me how to cook."






    She watched her son, who stared off across the harbor, and knew that it wasn't the water that he was actually looking at, but something far beyond it. After getting back from Augusta, Andy had immediately excused himself, a quiet mumble, and hadn't been back for hours. Finally she went out looking and found him on the swing bridge.

    Andy had always worn his heart on his sleeve; it was impossible not to know what was going on inside of him, because it radiated. He'd been a happy child, and a happy teenager, though a bit of a slacker in school. He made friends quickly, easily, and without much effort.

    Now, at twenty-five, he still wore his heart on his sleeve and his heartache was written all over him.

    She had not expected to end up with another child, but there was no way she could classify Scotty as anything else. Initially, she'd liked him just because he was a good-natured, helpful kid. Then, when he came back with Andy after the court-martial, standing at her son's side while Andy explained what had happened, she'd tried to understand how they could have gotten themselves into so much trouble.

    And for a year or so, she'd eyed this young man whenever he came around, rare as it was, unwilling as he was. Over that time, she tried to understand him, to figure out where exactly he fit into her son's life, and thereby the rest of theirs. But it was when he showed up to see if they had anything to send to their son, so far away, that she realized that he was adrift and had no place to retreat to, no safe harbor.

    In that moment, she decided to try to give him one.

    Looking at Andy on the bridge, she was more than glad she had. Not because Andy was bleeding at the heart, but because the same depth of sorrow he felt now was just another part of the patience and warmth and compassion that he'd found inside of himself when he'd fought tooth and nail to make a friend who wasn't easily made, and fought just as hard to keep that friend.

    It was the same thing inside of him that prompted him to watch over Rachel now, far better than he had when they were children; it was the same thing that made him reach out to people who he might not have reached out to before. And even in his heartache now, Melinda was deeply proud of her son.

    Just as much as she knew she would miss his brother, from having to pick his boots up from where he invariably left them in someone's walking path, to the way he'd warmed up to being around enough that he no longer looked utterly shocked by being hugged hello or goodbye.

    She walked down the planks to stand next to Andy, and he gave her a small smile before looking back off. But it was short-lived, and she knew it was for her sake.

    "There's a war on, Mom," he said, and she could hear the worry and plaintive edge in his voice. He paused, then continued in a tone that sounded grief to its depths. "How can I protect him while I'm here?"

    Her own tears started again. For her son, for his brother, for herself. Just as much, though, she was grateful for them.

    "You already do."
     
  9. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Mothers and Sons

    Wow...Corry went to war because Scotty was? That's serious dedication. VERY moving stuff!!
     
  10. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Mothers and Sons

    No, he didn't. Corry stayed on Earth, Scott went onto the Denevan Run. Much to Cor's worry. Thanks for the comment!
     
  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Mothers and Sons

    Crap...I think I must have misinterpreted the ending, and thought Corry would end up following Scott. Sorry. :(

    I still love the story, though!
     
  12. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Mothers and Sons

    Nah, no problem. And thanks!
     
  13. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends

    I'm still enjoying this story--it's just that the holidays make it difficult to keep caught up! Between kids and turkey and football games and work there are never enough hours. So, it's all the better for me when I have the time to devote to your stories--you really do have a knack and a love for these characters that comes through with every word.

    Keep it up!
     
  14. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Bookends

    Tell me about it!

    Thank you very much!
     
  15. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Abigail

    Title: Abigail
    Rating: PG, mild language
    Words: 1761
    Timeline: 2246
    Disclaimer: The universe is Paramount's, but for once, all the characters are mine.
    Notes: Abigail Hanson finds herself in a place she didn't expect. Originally posted here.

    --

    She didn't like South Bristol. It was familiar, and she could find her way around the little town blind, but she didn't like it. She'd grown up here, and couldn't walk through town without being waved to, but where most of the natives loved their little enclave in Maine, she didn't.

    Still, her father lived here, and she came back to check on him whenever her work schedule allowed it. And even if she disliked South Bristol, she loved Dad, and was willing to put up with the discomfort of being in this area for his sake.

    He was doing good, considering his age, considering his heart. A man who was a lot of bluster, like the spring wind, but warm and warming when the wind faded. And even his bluster had no edge -- rare was it when he ranted that he didn't have a twinkle in his eye. He was doing good, and for that, she was glad.

    It was still more winter in Maine; even on the edge of April, there was dirty and rotting snow everywhere, though the temperature was up to the point where walking didn't mean almost instant frostbite. After she checked on Dad, who wasn't allowed to have coffee in the house, she walked down to the cafe for a cup.

    Dan was at the counter, and gave her his customary grin, but other than him and Andy Corrigan sitting down the way a bit, it was quiet in there.

    "How've you been, Abby?" Dan asked, taking her travel mug when she handed it to him, then turning to go fill it.

    "Hangin' in," Abigail replied, pulling her gloves off so that she could get her credit chips out of her coat pocket. "War means tightened port security, so I'm eating up a lot of overtime."

    At the mention of her name, Andy looked down the counter. Once just the annoyingly sunny brother of one of her classmates, now he was another of the semi-familiar background faces of South Bristol. Which made the fact that he stole looks at her anytime they crossed paths kind of irritating. He sure hadn't had that staring problem when she was at the house working on a class project with Rachel. Must've developed it since then.

    He didn't stare at her this time, though, not even when she hiked an eyebrow in his direction, just gave her a sort of tired and far-less-than sunshiny half-smile that made her want to frown. Then he went back to his coffee.

    Dan brought hers back and she paid for it, then shook her head, turning to head for the door. But then looked back at Andy, who was staring into his coffee mug. "How're your folks?" she asked.

    He looked up again, eyebrows drawing in confusion, wearing some surprise on his face. "Not bad. Dad's retired, Mom's still writing. How's your Dad?"

    "Pretty good. Still kickin'."

    There was an almost awkward pause, then Andy gave her another of those half-hearted smiles that didn't look quite natural on his face. "Good." A beat. "Stay safe out there, okay?"

    For some reason, that statement made her feel kind of uneasy, but not exactly in a bad way. It wasn't so much the words, but the fact that he meant it sincerely; it wasn't just a casual good-bye, he really did want her to stay safe.

    Abby fought off a frown and nodded smartly. "You too." And she was sort of uneasy that she meant it herself. Then she finished her walk to the door and out.




    Shore Patrol was her calling. She had the particular ability and talent to notice trouble through a crowded spaceport; homegrown instincts that were cultivated by training. One twitch of a muscle in someone's face could be the difference between a smuggler or just a tired traveller, and she could read the faces and expressions of any number of species.

    Under the flag of the Federation, though not a part of Starfleet, the war still effected most things on Earth but in more subtle ways and the Shore Patrol was there to make sure that those ways never became less-than-subtle. Originally it was a part of Starfleet, made up of people assigned without experience to keep their own people out of trouble, but then as space travel became more common, it became clear that there needed to be a home-based police force to keep guard. And the Shore Patrol became its own organization.

    Since war had broken out, she was all over the planet; sometimes her home station in Augusta, more often they put her wherever they needed her at the time. But mostly she dealt with the same things -- smugglers, illegals, occasionally just belligerent assholes. Usually people who had something to hide, and could only be picked out of the crowds by their body language, expressions, the things that most people never looked twice it.

    Late April in Maine tended to be where winter truly finally released its grip to spring, and she walked through the musty rain that had a sweet scent in it to the cafe. Small talk with Dan, as usual. Andy was there this time; he hadn't been the last two times. Sitting down the way, dressed in his pale blue uniform shirt. He didn't look quite so forlorn as he had last time, though he still seemed to be a little lost, and certainly looked tired.

    "How're your folks?" she asked, as Dan got her coffee.

    "Still good. How's your Dad?"

    "Tough as ever." Dan was taking his time; apparently the pot wasn't finished. Feeling a little uncomfortable, Abby shifted her weight from her right foot to her left, then leaned her elbow on the counter. "How's Rachel?"

    Andy made a face that read as irritation, and some worry. "Not bad, but... I don't know what's gotten into her. She's just... I dunno."

    If reading for the subtle cues from people in crowds at port was her calling, then talking to Andy was like having everything printed on an open book in large letters. She didn't know the circumstances, but she could immediately glean that Rachel was probably in some state of not quite trouble, was duly smacking the offered help of her brother away and that his frustration was that he couldn't understand why.

    He shook his head, then, and gave her a smile. "How's work been?"

    "Up and down. You?"

    "Not bad. Taking classes for half the day, getting practical experience the other half."

    Dan finally brought her coffee back, and she paid for it. And again, with an earnestness that was as plain as the rain outside, Andy said, "Stay safe, Abby."

    "You too..." she paused there, then finished, "Andy."




    She had never wasted her time admiring the boys at school, let alone her classmate's brother. Just focused on her school work. Graduated top of her class. Got the Hell out of South Bristol, and was planning on getting out of Maine, but then Dad retired and she settled for living in Augusta. Close to work, close enough to her father.

    In the warm, bright air of summer, she wondered a little when she started looking at Andy like that. Slowly their conversations had lengthened, and she had realized with a jolt that she looked forward to them now. After days or weeks looking for all of the subtle indicators of lawbreaking and wickedness, talking to someone who spoke openly and honestly was like a relief.

    Andy was tethering the family's ketch to the dock, and in the bright sun looked like something that had come from it; golden and open, no eclipse. His skin had a healthy, tanned cast to it, and offset the sun-bleached blond hair on the top of his head. And when he looked at her and smiled, it was a bright smile and it was for her.

    That much light was just as hard to look at as it was natural to admire. And she felt another jolt.

    "How was the sailing?" she asked, as he stepped over.

    "Beautiful," he replied, taking a deep breath, and letting it out with a contented sigh. "I'm glad I got a day off today. How was work?"

    "Busy. Had a group of dignitaries in the Port of New York, and security levels were through the Goddamn roof." She leaned on a dockpost, crossing her arms. "And then the war protesters outside."

    A shadow crossed Andy's face, the cloud in front of the sun, and she frowned inwardly at that. He said, "I wish it would..." then stopped, then sighed. "I dunno. I'm not a pacifist or anything, and I know we didn't start it, but..."

    She recognized the shadow; he'd been living under it in March, though he'd slowly come out from under it since then. After a moment of internal argument, she gestured randomly at her own face. "Why the shadow?" she asked, and then wondered if he would even understand what she meant; it was vague.

    He did, though. "Just worry. My best friend shipped off on the Denevan run in March, and I don't like him being out there alone."

    "The black-haired guy you were palling around with."

    Andy looked surprised, like he had no idea that she would have noticed him, let alone who he was hanging around with. And Abby felt the corners of her mouth curl up. It was starting to sink into his head that she didn't miss much, but it was amusing and maybe even endearing that he still stole looks at her on the sly and thought he'd gotten away with them. Then he nodded, bobbing his blond head. "Yeah, that's him. I mean, I know he's okay, it's not like we don't write back and forth, but it's really hard not to worry anyway."

    That was endearing, too. She didn't bother saying anything cliche about how no war lasts forever, or that worrying about someone even when you know they're okay is a waste of energy. It would be trite, and she didn't feel like cheapening herself or Andy with it. So, she just nodded.

    He gave her a half-smile, the shadow dissipating but not entirely gone. "Guess I better let you go, huh?"

    "Take me out for coffee," she said, and on the word 'coffee' felt a spike of fear. But there was no taking the words back now.

    Andy's eyebrows went up, and then he laughed his surprise, but it was a happy laugh and scared her even at the same time that it felt good. "Wow. Really?"

    Abby cleared her throat, her face feeling warm, her voice rough. "Yeah, really."

    And even as scared as she was inside, of this wide-open man who looked at her so earnestly, she would never look back on that moment and regret it.
     
  16. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Abigail

    Awww...the beginning of a beautiful relationship. :)

    (Just watched Casablanca for the first time last night--can't help misquoting it! ;) )
     
  17. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Abigail

    It's a good movie! I actually like Bogie and Bacall's stuff, but Casablanca is definitely a classic. Thanks for the comment!
     
  18. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Home

    Title: Home
    Rating: G
    Words: 1538
    Timeline: 2246
    Disclaimer: One's Paramount's, the rest are all mine.
    Notes: It's strange how something can be wonderful and heartbreaking all at once. Like what it is to have a home. And what it is to be homesick. Second to last one of the set. Originally posted here.

    --

    Echoes and silence, patience and grace;
    All of these moments I'll never replace;
    No fear of my heart, absence of faith...

    All I want
    Is to be home.

    -Foo Fighters; Home

    --

    "The Lobster Festival in Rockland was good this year. We stuffed ourselves stupid."

    "...bastard."

    Corry chuckled, looking out over the bay; the horizon was starting to cool off in the east behind him, while the sun got low in the west and set the sky on fire in front of him. He was just sitting on the steps, in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, soaking up the warm air and the smell of the ocean that never seemed to get old to him. "Sorry. I'd send you some if I could."

    "Aye, I know." There was a half-muffled yawn on the other end of the line, but even through the little speaker of the communicator Corry had patched through the comm in the house, it could have been right beside him and not so many lightyears away. Then Scotty added, "Still a bastard, though. Know what was on the menu today?"

    "Lemme guess... cubes?"

    "Exactly."

    Wartime rationing was brutal at best for Starfleet, though it didn't touch the personnel stationed on Earth, or even inside of Sol. Worse was wartime staffing -- the more military vessels and squadrons took the lion's share of everyone, leaving the non-military cargo carriers to be badly undermanned by overworked, generally lower-ranking people. Corry shook his head to himself. "Long day." It wasn't a question.

    "Very."

    "If you want me to let you go get some sleep, we can catch up later."

    "No, I don't." There was a certain 'through the teeth' quality to Scotty's words, and Cor knew it wasn't because he was angry, but because he had his chin resting on his forearms and didn't have the energy left to hold his head up. "Don't know when I'll have the time t'get on subspace again."

    Between the marathon schedule, then the strict rules governing subspace communications usage during wartime, that was a legitimate enough reason. So, Corry nodded; knew Scott couldn't see it literally, but would sense it anyway. "It's beautiful here. Sun'll go down in a half-hour or so. Mom's down in Boston with Rach, but I don't think that's probably going so hot. Abby went home a few hours ago."

    "Aye?"

    "Yeah." Corry looked off, taking a deep breath, letting it out and leaning back on his elbows. Geez, it was gorgeous out; very warm, and a little humid, but just kind of a perfect summer day. So, knowing that he was being listened to, if not the words then his voice, he kept talking, "I'm still not sure where I am with her, y'know? I mean, she asked me out, but she's just... it seems like we make some headway, and I start thinking that we're a couple, but then she backs off and I don't hear from her for days, or even sometimes a week or more. Trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong." He didn't get a reply, and wasn't really looking for one, just continued, "I mean, she's... I see something in her, like just under the surface, and I'm willing to wait for that. I just don't know how long I'll have to or anything."

    There was a chuckle, then Scotty said, "If there's anyone persistent enough to win someone over, Cor, it's you."

    Corry shook his head with a wry grin. He supposed it must be true; making a friend of Scotty had taken him months, which he doubted he would have spent if not for the fact that he knew there was something there worth winning over. Now, over four years later, and through life, near-death, chaos and even silliness, he'd kill or die for that friendship. "I'm... I dunno. Just kinda letting her do the leading."

    "Whatever works."

    "I love it when she smiles. She doesn't really do it often, but when she does, she just... lights up, and man, I swear, my heart just about jumps out of my chest. It's like Christmas or something every time." Even just recalling it was making Cor smile, and he shook his head. "Yeah. I think I can wait for that."

    "Gettin' all domesticated?"
    Another quiet yawn; a likewise quiet grin that Corry could hear. "Better be careful, though. Looks like a bruiser -- wake her up with a lobster, she might take yer head off."

    "I'll save that for you. Still owe you for that stunt you pulled with the canners."

    "Ye did ask for it."

    "There's a big difference between sticking one lobster in someone's face and dropping ten of them... ten... onto someone in the shower."

    Scotty laughed, that kind of 'I really did do that, didn't I?' laugh, and before he could stop himself, Corry was laughing too. Really, he had gotten over it; still, at the time he had nearly lost his mind. Plus, his mother had been an accomplice in that, and that was even worse.

    "Aye, well, least I left the bands on 'em."

    "Small mercy. My shins were bruised for a week from where I dove out of the shower. Tore down the curtain, got water everywhere..." Corry shook his head with a smile. "And then my own mother was laughing at me."

    "So was I. All the way back to Augusta. An' all the next day."

    Cor rolled his eyes, but he wasn't mad. "Well, I'm glad I provide such a source of amusement."

    "Me too."

    Silence fell like the sun did; it was funny, most people tended towards trying to stuff as much conversation as they could into what subspace time they were allotted, but Corry had found that silence had become a reasonable, comfortable part of this long-distance communication. Maybe because it made it feel less long-distance. If they sometimes sat in silence when they were together, then sitting in silence apart was an acknowledgment that connections don't always require words.

    The first time they'd managed to catch each other on subspace was a fairly brief conversation, and a little raw. Corry had a far better understanding than most of what it was to be connected to people; after all that had happened in the Academy, he never let himself forget just what it is to be a part of someone else's life, either in blood or by choice.

    So, Scott shipping off had left him in a state like grief; looking out of the corner of his eye for someone who was supposed to be there, and then finding him not there, and it was renewed at every echo. Adding in the worry, and Cor had been a mess. Hard time concentrating, hard time training himself not to look for his best friend, who should be there, be home where he was missed.

    That first conversation, absent some letters, had been a little raw. And Scotty had said, in a way that managed to cover all of it, even maybe some wonder, "I'm homesick."

    It had hit Cor like a brick, and he was pretty sure they both were hit at the same time by it, because for someone to be homesick, then they had to have a home. Corry always knew he did. Always knew that he could come back to South Bristol, and he would be safe; surrounded by the things he'd grown up with, surrounded by people who liked him or loved him, and would protect him.

    He knew, though he had never figured out why, that Scotty really hadn't had a home before. At least not in the way that people do when they know, on some level deeper than words, that they belong somewhere.

    If there was ever a living, breathing reminder to Corry to appreciate what he had grown up with, knew into his soul, it was Scotty. Because you never quite understand what it is to have a home until you see someone else discover it, little by little. And just like he would kill or die for this friendship, he would kill or die so that his best friend never had to wonder again if he would have some sheltered harbor to retreat to.

    Few things in the universe could encompass what those two words had summed up.

    Just like no words could explain how Cor knew Scotty had fallen asleep with the comm line open; could probably hear the tree-frogs in the trees starting up, and given how new the communicator was, maybe even the water across the road rolling in.

    But it made him smile anyway.

    "Hey, Wolf. Wake up." A quiet tug on the line.

    "Mm," was the protesting, drowsy reply.

    Corry chuckled, shaking his head. "No sleeping at the desk."

    Scotty sighed, a long-suffering sigh, and it was a little amused and a little like a kid who had just gotten rousted by his older brother, and just as much an indicator of how far they'd managed to get. "Bastard."

    Cor looked off at the sunset, and listened to the summer air, and took a breath. It had been a beautiful day. "I know."

    There was a pause on both parts; an acknowledgment of silence, and connection, and what it is to be at home and homesick. And for all the ways that families had come up with to say goodbye to each other across distances, none of them ever quite worked. Just a pause in the silence, and one more moment that spanned lightyears, and then the click of the call breaking.

    Because in the end, all the things that really mattered were never broken.
     
  19. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Home

    So I'm guessing back then (especially during wartime) it wasn't so common to have visual communications? It seems like this is audio...

    And I LOVE getting the follow-up on the lobster incident! I had been wondering exactly that, if he left the bands on or not! :rommie:

    Very moving to see them still trying to keep up the friendship despite distance and circumstances.
     
  20. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: True Bearings - Home

    I think visual was probably much more strictly allotted. I figure that in the modern day, it takes less bandwidth (or whatever else) to do audio communications than it does full video, and I imagine that even in the future with subspace communications, it would still be about the same. Except, of course, they can call across whole lightyears. ;) Plus, especially during wartime, I'd think that the relays and everything that makes it possible would be dedicated mostly to wartime traffic.

    Thank you! I loved this one. It was quiet and warm and I'm glad I wrote it.