Where's your game face, girl?
The Junk Heap
Location: SB 310
It didn't feel like that long ago that Alex was standing in Wheelwright for the last time, feet planted on the soft, bare earth, eyes staring out past the young corn stalks at anything but the homestead. There'd been a fight- as usual- and she'd left- as usual, only this time it wasn't her brother who'd met her at the edge of the fields. Her husband's strong arms wrapped around her middle and settled in under her own crossed arms. For a long moment they were silent. Then Bay pressed his lips to her ear and rested his head atop hers. "We don't have to come back, you know. Not ever again if you don't want to," he whispered into Alex's hair. Such simple words, but powerful. They followed her, but the meaning had twisted.
There was no going back. Not to Kentucky. Not to Bailey. Not to anywhere that she'd been before. The taint of memories and ghosts lingered in her steps. It announced her before she got to a place in the form of personnel records and followed like a train when she left. This assignment, Alex figured, would be no different.
"Come on, Al, you've just got to give it a shot. Loosen up your shoulders some. Lose the bitch face. Think positive thoughts. What would make you happier than a clam for taking a first step onto that ship?" Her brother asked her as they stepped down from the shuttle side by side. He'd been stingy about showing her his orders, but Alex already had a sinking feeling that she knew what they'd say.
"That I can go the hell home and forget this happy horse shit?" Before he could even grimace fully, she continued on with her grumbling. "Whatever strings you pulled to get on this ship, Eric, you'd better hope that they'll let you back off. I don't stick anywhere. I don't fit now that I ask questions."
"You don't fit because you've kinda been a bitch. Hon, sis, kid- listen. Don't you look at me that way. You hurt, and I get that. I hurt, too. But you've got to get your head up and start treading water again. You think Bay would want you to screw up your career and mess your whole life up so you could be a professional widow? Hell, no." Eric punched his youngest sister in the arm, who punched him right back a little harder than she needed to. "Drop the shit. Chin up. No bitchface. Mind your sirs. You can do this, Al. You did it before, and you can do it again. It's just a job. What would Bay say?"
Alex glowered at the pep talk. "Time to fuck shit up."
"Now go with that, only try a bit more decorum, sweetie. You've got this. And you got me. In it just like always, right?" He lifted a fist to bump, which he dropped at her groan. "Fine then. I'ma just pester you to no end till you remember that you've got a pulse again. It's been years, Al. Years."
Pulling her carry on strap over her head, Alex shouldered the duffel with a few choice curses and hurried off before her brother could catch up. If he wanted to be Miss Susie Sunshine, he'd have to find some other unwilling victim to shadow. It wasn't that she didn't love him, or that she wasn't actually glad that he was there. It was the optimism. She just couldn't do it anymore. Why fake that everything would be okay when she'd just end up back in the staffing pool again? She hoped that one day the Fleet would get tired of trying to place her and just send her off to a pasture somewhere. Alex had thoroughly convinced herself that she just didn't care.
Except that she did- or, at least, she was starting to. The constant toss of an ocean of stars was starting to wear on her nerves. With nowhere to go and nowhere to belong, there were no ports that could be safe harbors. At her heart of hearts, she was still a Kennedy, and her father's name was attached to her's. Bailey's was. Eric's was. And she couldn't drag them down. All of that girded her and helped her square her shoulders as she headed towards the docking rings.
Cmdr. Alexandria Harper
XO, USS Century
Lt. Eric Kennedy
SFM Corpsman, USS Century