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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Leave with the Proto-Hippies [Complete]

z-Olivia Jenings-Izumi

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It was an incredibly happy Olivia who disembarked from the airplane at Oakland International. It'd been a short flight from Denver to Oakland, just a hop over the mountains, really, but she'd been impatient the whole way. Now that she was walking out of the airplane, she started to bounce on her toes, scanning the waiting crowd. Declan and Gwyn were behind her, and she remembered to look back and see that they were keeping up.


Suddenly the bouncing stopped and she surged into the crowd, disappearing for a moment. When the two Specialists caught up to her, she was in a group hug with a motley assortment of people. The oldest man was only a couple of inches taller than Olivia, and had a kind, smiling face stamped strongly with Japanese heritage. His short hair was graying, the black shot through with gray, but all his wrinkles looked like smile lines, as if he'd done nothing but smile his entire life. The other man was about Olivia's age and was about the same height as the man. He was clearly related to the man, though his features were less specific about his heritage. The other woman was the tallest member of the group. Her African-American features made her stand out of the group, but it was easy to see the relationship to Olivia. Her hair swung around her in long braids, the weaves crossed with gray.


Turning, Olivia waved her teammates over. "Mom, Dad, Wakaki, these are my friends," she said, glaring at her brother when he smirked. "Declan, Gwyn, this is my Mom, Delayha, my father, Haruo-"


"Harry," her father said, extending a hand with that same happy smile. It would be annoying, if one wasn't won by its sincerity.


"And my brother Wakaki," Olivia finished, indicating the younger man.


"Yo, whazzup?" he asked. Despite the fact that he wasn't dressed in baggy pants and a tilted baseball cap, it was easy to picture him wearing them, just by his manner and attitude. "Good to meet Livy's 'friends.'" That got another glare from Olivia, while Wakaki just smirked.


"Let's get your bags and get home," Delayha said, slipping an arm over her daughter's shoulder.


"Baggage claim is this way," Harry said, waving and leading his little brood through the airport. It didn't take long to get their bags sorted and claimed, and then they were heading to the van that was parked in the airport lot. Along the way, the easy chatter flowed smoothly, talking about the flight, the weather there, the weather here and all manner of light small-talk.


The mood changed a little as they loaded the van and Harry began to manuvear out of the parking lot. Delayha turned around in her seat and looked at Declan and Gwyn. "You know, you really don't have to stay at Wakaki's. There's plenty of room at the house."


"Nah... they want to hang with the bachelor's place, Mom," Wakaki said. "Staying up late, ladies all the time-"


"Sleeping on the floor, no hot breakfast," Delayha chimed in. She turned eyes that were familiar in color but not shape to Declan and Gwyn. "It's up to you, gentlemen. But we have lots of room and you'll get home cooked meals."


"Someone's not playing fair," Olivia observed, laughing as Wakaki rolled his eyes.

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He'd kept his shades on the whole time, even once in the back of the van. The plane ride had been mildly uncomfortable, surrounded by a couple of dozen 'normal' people, and the bustling crowd at the airport had kept sending mixed signals to his heightened awareness of his surroundings. He'd nearly killed two people already today, each time analysing the threat and deeming it non-existent before his hand could move.

At least my brain is fast enough to keep up with my body. He mused as he sat in the back of the Jenings-Izumi family-mobile. He looked away from the window he was staring out of as he became aware of Delayha addressing him and Jones, grateful for the thousandth time that his eyes were covered.

"Um.." He looked at Jones then back at her. "We thought that it'd be coolest if the Doc could have her mom and dad to herself most of the time, ma'am. I'm sure we'll be fine at a bachelor pad, and it puts less strain on the bathroom." He smiled slightly. "Besides, Mrs Jenings-Izumi, I'm kinda up all hours, and that's more disruptive to a family-style household, I'm sure."

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The trip had been uneventful so far, but Gwyn had noticed a number of occasions where the Sgt - Dec, had seemed to get tenser and he actively watched no for similar situations to try to avoid them or to make sure that he was between Dec and the people who might trigger such reactions.

The family reunion was good to see, and Gwyn wondered how long it would be before he could get a decent length break to get back to Wales to see his sister and her family. Baggage reclaim wasn't a problem with both Gwyn and Dec's heighted observation picking out there bags as soon as they appeared. The only minor glitch came with remembering not to carry all the bags himself, but to share them out a bit and to make it look lke they were more of a load then the featherweight they felt to their increased strength.

Following the Sgt's lead Gwyn added, "Dec and I tend to work out a lot as well, so we can get through a ton of food most of the time. We wouldn't want to impose on your time with Olivia, and I can cook well enough to keep us batchelors going for the duration. I certainly intend on doing cook breakfasts for as many as want them at Wakaki's."

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"Ok, guys, but if you change your mind, let Olivia know," Delayha said, "and it's Mrs. Jenings, but please, call me Delayha." She gave a roguish grin to her husband and said, "You know, Harry, you could join him, have a boy's party."

"No!" Harry laughed, shaking his head vehemently enough to make the van sway a little. "I like sleeping next to my wife and having hot breakfast. Let the young men sleep on floors. I have bed and most beautiful wife." He gave Delayha a content, loving smile. Delayha smiled back, just as happily.

"So I guess we're going to drop off the guys at Wakaki's?" Olivia asked.

"Well, we thought we'd drop off the bags and then go have dinner," Delayha said, turning back to smile at her daughter. "I'm sure you're all hungry after the flight." She looked at their guests. "Do you gents like Italian?"

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"Italian would be great Delayha, thank you."

Gwyn looked out the window, quickly noting their location and direction of travel and comparing it with the maps he had looked up on the web before leaving SGC. He also noted a couple of 24 hour coffee shops and a Walgreen's with a 24 hr food mart. After all Declan would need more than was polite to eat at the restaurant, so it would be best to know where to get some supplies in from.

Hopefully the restaurant would be a lower risk environment for the Sgt, although all those people with knives... with a slight sinking feeling he gave Dec an encouraging smile before looking back at the family.

"Olivia has been enthusiastic in inviting us over to meet you, and has told us about Wakaki's music, but I don't recall her telling us what the two of you do?"

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He sat and listened quietly, struck by how alien this seemed to him. Even before he had been altered, before he had been a soldier, his experiences of family had been... well, non-existant really. This was like watching a TV show or movie to him. The Army had been the only family he'd had, but that was more a brotherhood that a for-real nurturing household. He watched from behind his shades as Olivia's father and mother doted on each other and felt... something. It made him smile, whatever it was.

"Italian sounds grand, Delayha." He said quietly, that smile still on his lips. "We really appreciate the hospitality."

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"It's not a problem for friends of Olivia's," Delayha assured him. "We've met so many interesting people through her. We've learned so much from them." She smiled, a gentle expression that was close to Olivia's. "And I'm sure we'll learn something from you, as well."

Everyone under the age of forty got to chew on that fun statement while Harry drove to Wakiki's apartment. After the guys' bags were offloaded, it was back into the van for a quick drive to a small Italian restaurant.

Olivia had known that her brother was evil, but he'd learned patience and timing since the last time he'd had dirt on her. He waited until they were seated, had put in their order and were a little settled before he asked, "So, sis... whatcha doing these days?"

Olivia shot him a look that could kill, though thankfully for their cover and his life, it wasn't an actual power that she possessed. As Harry and Delayha turned interested faces toward their daughter, she snatched up her water glass. "First," she said, stalling quickly, "a toast. To family and friends, and gathering together."

"Hear, hear," Harry said, lifting his own glass, then stopping. "Rhet's wait for the wine before a toast, though."

"Yes," Delayha said, smiling. "It's bad luck to toast with water. Now tell us what you've been up to! Why'd you leave Los Vegas?"

"I got transferred," Olivia said, not adding that the transfer had happened in a medical helicopter, or that she'd been in such terrible pain that she'd become desensitized to the world and had been unaware. There were some things they never needed to know. "I now work at a base in Colorado."

"You said that, in Denver?" Harry asked.

"Base?" Delayah asked, her smile slipping just a bit. "That sounds like the military."

Olivia shot daggers at Wakiki, who beamed at her. "It is. A branch of the Air Force that studies deep space telemetry - like what the Hubble does. I'm an archivist there."

Delayah studied her for a long moment, while Harry frowned, an alien expression on his cheerful face. "Ok," she said, but her tone and tension made it clear that it wasn't ok, not by a long shot. There was a definite sense that this would be discussed later, when non-family wasn't around.

"And you guys work with her, too?" Wakiki asked, quickly. "What do you do?" Olivia jerked suddenly, and Wakiki jumped, "Aw, fuck, you kicked me!"

"Oops," Olivia said, smirking as Delayah snapped, "Watch your language. And, Livy... really? Resorting to violence?"

Olivia shrank a little. "It's not like he'd shut his big mouth without some outside help."

"And where were you planning on telling me you work for the military?" Delayah asked, her eyes flashing.

And just like that, Olivia took back that slouch. "Mom, not in front of my friends, my teammates. I would have said something after dinner, at the house," Olivia said firmly. "And I know you're mad that I waited this long, but I wanted to be brave enough to tell you to your face."

Wakiki leaned over and whispered to Gwyn. "That's a good, classic way to slow Mom's roll," he confided.

"Fine," Delayah said, her face tight. "Wakiki, please."

Just like that, Wakiki sat up, nodding. Something about his mother's tone had told him that she'd reached a limit.

There was a moment of silence. "Werh," Harry said, smiling peacefully again, "at reast they're not both her boy'riends."

After a moment of disbelief, Olivia put her head down on the table and just laughed. God, she'd missed her family.

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Gwyn just looks at Dec at Harry's comment about both being her boyfriend as if to say 'what the fuck?'.

He let Olivia have a few seconds to compose herself, but ended up talking over her continuing but winding down laughter. For this he lets his native Welsh accent slip through more than he normally does.

"In answer to your earlier question Delayah, Dec and I both work on the same team as Olivia, we explain the findings to her and she makes a hell of a lot better job of writing it up than we could. I'm a civilian contractor like Olivia, but my background is in Physics and Electronics. Dec here is a Sergeant in the Airforce, who we dragged along since like me he didn't have anywhere reachable to go for his leave."

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"Well, then I'm glad she brought you here, Declan," Delayah said, recovering some of her hospitality. "No one should be alone in a military base while everyone's on leave." The words didn't sound right, coming from her, but she still managed to smile.

After that, dinner passed much more calmly. The entire family, including Wakiki, was on their best behavior. Thankfully, the food was plenty good, making what might have been a very awkward meal and turning it into a mostly enjoyable meal. While it didn't sate the Specialists' tremendous appetites, it did turn the rib-gnawing hunger into a pleasantly-feed sensation.

By more or less mutual consent, Gwyn and Declan were taken to their home away from home for the next six nights. The parents dropped them off in front of the building; the last they saw of Olivia that night was her gazing longingly at them out the back of the van. They could almost feel guilty about what their teammate was going through. Almost.

"So, we want to hit the clubs, or should I jus' call some shorties over for some company?" Wakiki asked, tossing his key ring from hand to hand. "You're in good hands with me - I know all the fun places after dark." He confidently waited for the men to pick their poison for the evening.


"What happened?" Delayah asked, as if Livy joining the Air Force was some kind of accident or preventable disease.

"I needed a job," Olivia said, hating that her voice sounded sullen. Wincing, she tried again, adding, "I know you don't understand. But I love what I do. I'm learning so much and meeting great people-"

"And carrying a gun?" Delayah asked pointedly.

"Mom, I'm an archivist. I don't handle rifles at my desk," Olivia sighed. She was skirting the truth with a vicious nearness, and had every intention of continuing to waltz around it. "It's like any other librarian job - I deal with a lot of information."

That was a touch untrue, and her mother glared at her. "I know when you're lying, Olivia Sachi Jennings-Izumi," Delayah snapped, her nostrils flaring.

"Even if you believe that, and even if I am, I'm under contract not to talk about it," she said, hating pulling an NDA on her parents.

"Of course you are," her mother said angrily. "I'm so disappointed, Olivia. I thought we taught you to have more respect for life."

"Mom, you have no idea how wrong you are," Olivia said, thinking about all the lives that SG-1 had saved on Earth alone. "I can't tell you why, but what I do is important, and it saves lives." She realized that she sounded angry or perhaps petulant.

"Saves countries, you mean," Delayah said, shaking her head. "Nothing the government does saves human lives. If you wanted to help, you should have joined the Peace Corp."

"You should trust me," Olivia said as her father drove on, quiet and troubled. "You should trust that I learned your lessons well."

"I don't want you to become a killer," Delayah said, her voice tight. When she turned her head away, Olivia saw the first hint of tears. Harry glanced at his wife, then took her hand.

Olivia sighed and rested her head against the window. So I guess I get two helpings of parental guilt along with dinner, she sighed to herself.

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Gwyn looks to Dec for a heartbeat before replying with a smile and deliberately thickend accent, "Well for myself, I've had quite a hectic last month or so, and I reckon I could probably do with easing into your scene Wakiki. You know, take it easy on the poor boy from the welsh mountains like"

In more normal tones he continues, "After the flight and that lovely meal perhaps just chill here with some company tonight and ramp up starting tomorrow, how does that sound?"

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Dec just nodded from behind his shades. "Yeah, Wakiki. We just got done with some major exercises and we're both a little fragged." He grinned slightly. "Maybe we can go out in a day or two when we're feelin' like human beings again? Company sounds cool, as long as they don't hate soldiers. Been a while since I've talked to a woman I didn't have to call "ma'am" or "sir"."

Or nursemaid. His treacherous thoughts poked at him. How long's it gonna be before you snap and they need a reinforced rubber room, Dec ol' buddy? He forced the black voice down and stretched a bit. "If we're gonna have company, I might grab a shower first if that's cool?" He shouldered his kitbag.

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"Alright!" Wakiki said. "I knew you guys'd be fun. Yeah, take a shower - it'll take the ladies a while to get pretty for us, right? Help yourselves." He pulled out a phone and stepped into the bedroom, speaking on it in rapid-fire Japanese. After ten minutes he came back out, grinning. "The night's entertainment is on the way! And pizza, too. I don't know about you guys, but Italian makes me hungry."


The food came before the guests, but that didn't stop Wakiki from digging in. He encouraged Gwyn and Declan to join him, keeping up a mild chatter about the girls who were coming over. Suki was a small-time model who showed up in a lot of lesbian mags despite being straight; Jane was an accountant who like to cut loose in the evenings; Mony was great in the sack but could be clingy; and Rachel was someone Wakiki had met briefly and wanted to meet on a more intimate level. "They're a little lackin' in creative thought, if you follow. But don't worry," he said, his tone indicating frank seriousness. "They are all totally hot."

He was correct; they were hot, each in their own way. Suki was a cute little woman of Japanese heritage; bubbly and vivacious, she eagerly hugged everyone. Jane was a shapely brunette with a tribal skank stamp she made no attempt to hide. Mony was a melting pot of Indian, African and Caucasian features; she wasted no time coiling an arm around Gwyn and flirting heavily with him. Rachel was an aloof blond with a quick wit, and it was easy to see that Wakiki's attraction to her was in part due to the challenge.

He was also correct that they were fairly normal, bland women whose main hobby was partying. Still, they were pleasant enough, and not adverse to a little bit of physical fun.


Her parents lived in the same two-story brownstone in the neighborhood of Berkeley Hills that Olivia had grown up in. She smiled as her father pulled carefully into the tiny garage, avoiding the bikes that were her parents' usual mode of transportation. Little was said as she grabbed her suitcase and her father took her garment bag and they all trooping into the house.

It was all the same, though her mother had updated the decor a bit and changed the back splash behind the stove to a cheerful daisy theme. Olivia wandered through to the stairs, noting the little changes, enjoying the comforting familiarity of her home. She headed to the second floor, moving to her former bedroom. This hadn't been changed, except for a storage cabinet in the room. She wondered when they'd reclaim the room, then decided that since she'd moved back home once, they were probably hedging their bets.

Olivia dropped her suitcase in her bedroom; behind her, her father carried in her garment bag. "Thanks," she said wearily, giving him a smile.

"I would frhy to the moon," he said with a smile, "if you could come home more."

"Dad," she said, giving him a hug. It felt so good to be home with him, and to get a hug from him was almost enough to make her cry. "I miss you guys, too."

"You could," he said. "If you want to work for the mirhitary stirh, Orhie, you could transfer to a crhoser base."

Olivia smiled sadly. Her dad only called her Ollie when he was getting upset, and she knew that she'd caused that with her announcement. But there was no way around it. "No, my work is at Cheyenne Mountain. To do it, I have to be there."

He searched her face and said, "You courhd to anything with rhibrary degree. Why this?"

"Because I've come to love it," Olivia said, her tongue aching with the desire to blurt out the truth. "I really can't say why."

"This is why I don't like the government," Delayah said from the door. She was leaning against the frame, crossing her arms. "They keep secrets from the people they claim to serve."

There was no way to deny that, and Olivia didn't try. "Yes, they do, in the service of those they serve. They're not perfect, but they try to do the best."

"I've seen their 'best', sweetie," Delayah said softly. "Your grandmother went through the worst as young black woman in the South. The government is supposed to serve the people, but the people in the government often serve their people, not the People. Do you know who your bosses are serving?"

Olivia thought of all she'd heard about in the SG program and slowly nodded. "I'm not saying all of them, but the General I work under... he's a good man. I believe that he serves the People, and not just in the US. I believe that he is determined to help the good guys and stop the bad," she said solemnly. "I really do."

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Given the circumstances, it was only a matter of time before questions were raised. Dec was on his tenth slice of pizza and fifth beer, his fierce metabolism burning through the calories from the large Italian meal earlier and requiring more. He exchanged a glance with Jones as he scarfed it down and nodded: they would spring for the next round of pizzas if the night wore on. Hell, it wasn't like they had anything else to spend on. He was aware that Suki was gazing at him in quietly speculative amazement as he packed it away and resolved to slow down now that the edge was off. He gave her a sheepish grin and a shrug. "Better'n Army rations." he offered lamely in explanation. "This is food of the damn gods after that."

"You must work out a LOT, eating like that." Suki said, her pretty dark eyes wide. Jane plomped down on the couch next to Declan, her eyes roaming over the shoulders under the plain white t-shirt. "I'll say." she said with a sly grin that made Suki giggle. The brunette pursed her lips as she reached out and ran a finger over the Ranger tattoo with it's Spec Ops flash on Dec's arm, the passage of her fingernail making his skin prickle. "So what's the sword and lightning for, soldier?" she asked in a teasing voice as she traced the design. Dec glanced over at her and smiled, a little hesitantly.

"S'just a unit thing." he demurred, not really wanting to brag - or tell people what he used to do. "All the guys got one." Jane smiled at him. He's got a cute smile... kinda shy she thought to herself. Rachel looked over from where she was bantering with Wakiki, a speculative look in her eye.

"I'll bet you're Special Forces." she said aloud with a smirk. "The beard and hair - no normal soldier grows them out like that. My dad was military." The observation lay across the party atmosphere for a moment like a large exciting elephant that had just been introduced to the room.

"Special Forces?" Suki half-asked, half-exclaimed, wide-eyed and breathless. Dec shook his head, trying not show his nervousness at the sudden turn in the conversation. "Nah, I'm no Green Beret."

"Suuuure you're not." Jane purred with another grin, this one approaching predatory status. "Lemme guess, you can't talk about it, right? That's cool." To Wakiki and Gwyn, Dec was starting to look a little hunted. "So why are you wearing the shades? Sparing us your thousand-yard stare?" Suki giggled again as Jane reached out to tug the Raybans down. Declan's hand was almost too fast in catching her wrist.

"Uh... My eyes were injured in action, they're still recoverin'." he lied swiftly. "I have to keep these on in anything brighter than ambient starlight or risk permanent damage, the doc says."

Click to reveal.. (He's a BAD liar!!!)

Rolling Manip and Subterfuge.... 1 die.

(22:54:04) ChatBot: (Dec) rolls 1d10 and gets 3.

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Gwyn happily recipricates Mony's attentions, feeding her a slice or two of pizza to his four or five, the beers he doesn't bother counting since they have no effect he only drinks what he needs to or to keep up. Things were developing nicely and he was thinking about how or when they might be able to leave for either the spare room or back to her place when his alarm bells started ringing over the gentle interrogation that Dec was recieving.

When the subject of the Green Beret was raised he saw his chance to try to divert them at least a little.

"Green Beret, nah I don't think Dec went down that route, but funny enough although I'm only a civilian engineer I did do a course to get my Green Beret with the British Royal Marine Commandos about six months back."

Click to reveal..

Cha roll to try to diverrt attention from Dec for a bit to give him a breather. By the way, he isn't lying he did get his Green Beret via the All Arms Commando Course.

(23:38:06) ChatBot: (Gwyn_Jones) rolls 3d10 and gets 9,9,1.

(23:38:13) (Gwyn_Jones): 2 sux

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"Sure they are," Jane said with a laugh. "I bet you have sexy eyes and I wanna see them, so I guess we'll just have to go out to the balcony." She bounced to her feet and grabbed his hand. "On your feet, soldier!"

"Me, too!" Suki said, rising to follow.

Rachel didn't appear interested, and Mony was too busy asking Gwyn, "Where's your beret? Do you have it here?" She leaned in and whispered, "I'd love to see you wearing it." Her implication was clear that he'd be wearing little else.

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"They ain't sexy." he said quietly, not letting them tug him to his feet. "They're a little creepy, actually. Most folks don't like them. C'mon, ladies. I don't want to kill the party." He winced internally at the choice of words. The girls just laughed, Suki grabbing his other hand.

"C'mon, cutie. Let's have a look at them. Now I'm dying to see them." The two girls tugged at him, assuring him that his eyes couldn't be that bad, and it wouldn't hurt him to show them outside. Dec sighed and shook his head with a smile. Maybe they'll be easier to take with less light there... Maybe they won't freak out. He let them pull him out into the cool night air on the balcony.

"Ooh, I want to see first!" Suki reached up but was deflected by a laughing Jane as the maneuvered Declan into the dimmest part of the balcony, giggling and playful.

"Hold on. It's more fun when they do it themselves, girl. Patience!" She fixed Dec with a challenging stare. "Okay, soldier... Take 'em off." Her smile added more meaning to her words than a mere insistence that he remove his Raybans, and Dec laughed despite his nervousness.

"Okay, okay..." He closed his eyes and slipped the shades off, counting to five before opening his eyes slowly. He saw their smiling faces close to his, eyes wide in anticipation as they saw revealed to them...

Cold, dead mercury mirrors. A gaze that held no emotion, no soul, or at the most a soul that lived only to analyse and breakdown everything it beheld with chilly precision. They were the eyes of a being with no regard for any living thing, all the more terrifying in their unchanging stare as the face in which they were set visibly fell and turned sad as the two women recoiled.

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Suki paled and jumped back. Jane's playful mood was gone instantly. "I..." Suki said, and then she went inside.

"That's... I've never seen anything like that," Jane said softly; he could hear the tremble in her voice. "I'm... sorry. You should probably put the glasses back on." As he did, she said, "I'm... I'll just head back inside."

Declan was left alone on the balcony with more proof of how inhuman he'd become.

To those left inside, Suki burst in suddenly. "I forgot something, I have to go," she said, pausing only to grab her purse. "I'll call a cab, you guys can stay. Bye." She was out the door that fast.

Jane was right behind her, hugging herself a little. "Bathroom?" she asked Wakiki.

Their host pointed, then excused himself to Rachel and stood, heading for the balcony.

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He found Declan leaning on the balcony looking outwards, his shades back in place and an air of contemplative silence about him. Olivia's brother was about to speak when Dec pre-empted him.

"They saw something they didn't like. Yeah, I warned them. No, I'm not going to show you." His voice was quietly bitter, even despairing. "Yeah, it's scary. No, I'm fine out here for now. Yeah, I think I should stay at home while you and Gwyn go out. No, I'm not going to tell you what the hell's going on. Yeah, that's mainly because I don't really know myself. No, I don't think Livy will tell you much either." He turned his head to Wakiki briefly, the black eye-coverings catching the light from the lounge before he looked away again.

"Thanks for havin' me here, man. Sorry about the ladies."

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Seeing the girls reaction when they came in Gwyn knew what had happend, "I'd say it's a bit crowded here, hmmm? Why don't you get your things while I explain things to the guys on the balcony."

Stepping out onto the balcony he tries to explain to Wakiki, "Sorry Waki, the girls shouldn't have done that. Dec got exposed to a chemical attack in Afghanistan. Obviously he survived, but it's done something to the sclera and corneas of his eyes. We think they have become laced with a non-reactive silver or mercury based compound. He's fine, but it's made his eyes kind of freaky, hence the sunglasses."

He turns to Dec, "Sorry about that man, they shouldn't have pressed you, but I suppose they didn't know any better. Anyway I'm going to bail with Mony, I'll catch you guys later?"

Click to reveal..

Attempt to bluff Wakiki about Dec's eyes

(01:19:53) ChatBot: (Gwyn_Jones) rolls 3d10 and gets 4,6,9.

(01:20:02) (Gwyn_Jones): 1 sux

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"Yeah, later," Wakiki said. "Just buzz downstairs when you need back in, ok?" He glanced at Gwyn, but his attention was on Declan.

When Jones was gone, Wakiki said, "So, chemicals, huh? Ok, well, they didn't look disgusted, they looked afraid. So here's all I'm gonna say.

"When Livy was younger, she dropped out of college for a while and shacked up with some loser," he said casually, almost conversationally. But there was nothing casual about his expression. "Then one day she calls me and asks me to pick her up at a store. I go, and she's... bad. She didn't say anything, wouldn't tell me shit, but I knew it'd been bad. She had me drop her back with Mom and Dad, and asked me to get her stuff.

"So I grabbed six of my best buds, and we went back to her old place. And we had a long talk with her boyfriend," he said, his voice getting hard and cold. "It didn't end well for him, after what that fuck told me. So if you hurt my sister, I don't care if you're a Ranger, Green Beret or fuckin' Superman - I'll gather some of my best buds and we'll find you, and you'll end up just like fuckin' Bill."

He straightened out of his lean against the railing and said, "I'm going to go out. Enjoy the place, watch a movie, whatever." He smiled a bit stiffly, but it was clear that his little speech had helped him relax a bit.

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"I'd never hurt Livy." Dec's voice was quiet as Wakiki started towards the door, but the tone made the younger man pause. "She's one of the best of the few friends I got. I didn't know that about her... that she'd been with a guy like that." The Ranger turned to face him, face sad and grim under the shades. "Makes sense now that I think about it."

"Now you're protective of your sister. That's cool. So am I." He gave the young man a faint smile. "And yeah, you're right in thinkin' its bullshit about my eyes bein' injured. Truth is something happened to me. Somethin' weird as fuck. And Livy's one of the bright people that are part of figuring the whole puzzle out. She's quite a girl. But my eyes... They're hard for people to take. They're weird now."

He leaned back against the railing. "I've told you this much because you're her brother, and because you think that I'm some kind of danger to her. I ain't." Dear god I've never prayed but please let me be right "So I'm hopin' I can trust you with the little piece I can give you of the big ol' puzzle, as one man to another."

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"Well, I ain't never told her about Bill, or that I know what I know," Wakiki said softly. "And ain't told Mom or Dad, either. Livy won't talk to us about it, so I guess she doesn't want us to know." He shook his head, looking a little sad and hurt. "I won't say anything about what you said, and if she lets you call her Livy, I guess that means she trusts ya. So I'm gonna, too."

He paused and added, "I have ladies over every night, groupies and the like. You might wanna stay with Mom and Dad - boring central. But whatever you wanna do, I'm cool.

"Now, I gotta go save Jane and get Rachel outta here before I get left," he said, his 'playa' attitude returning in a heartbeat. "Don't wanna hang here all night, no offense. Take it easy, man."

Declan heard him duck back into the apartment and call out to Rachel and Jane. It wasn't too long before he was alone in a stranger's apartment.

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He wandered back in and sat back on the couch, picking up his beer again and draining it before chowing down on the rest of the pizza. Dec briefly wondered if he'd done the right thing telling Olivia's brother even the cryptic half-secrets that he had. He shrugged. The kid had been upset and worried. Maybe now he'd be curious, but at least he wouldn't be ready to panic and run to Mom and Dad about how their girl was associating with a lunatic.

The sergeant stretched out on the couch, kicking off his sneakers as he clicked the TV remote on and turned it over to the Comedy Channel. Might as well get comfortable.

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About 1am the buzzer goes, indicating that Gwyn is back, ruefully Dec pushes the button that lets him up to the apartment.

When he enters it's obvious to the sergeant that the welshman has had a shower before returning, although the large box of doughnuts and large coffees that he carried were a welcome addition.

"Hey Dec, sorry about earlier. Did he buy it about the chemicals? I just thought it might be something the girls might buy as well if he passed it on."

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"Of course he didn't buy it about the chemicals." Dec laughed, a short bark of black amusement. "No problems, though. We had a little talk." He was still watching the TV as he spoke, eating Thai he'd ordered in.

"How was your night? On second thoughts, don't answer that." He grinned over at Jones from behind his shades. "I'm depressed enough already."

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One in the morning found Olivia wandering the streets of Berkeley. She knew she probably shouldn't, but she was far too wound up to stay at home. She couldn't sleep right now, in part because of the miasma of parental concern and guilt that was choking her. It was strange, but she'd wanted to see them more than anything else, and now, she couldn't tell them about anything important in her life. She couldn't talk about how her efforts to improve herself, or what she had learned; she couldn't share her excitement over leaving the planet and going somewhere else.

It was very lonely.

She passed by a nightclub, realized it was the Easy Cat, stopped and turned back. It was one of the joints angled toward college kids, and there was no line on a Sunday night. She got in easily, even though she wasn't dressed right in khaki capris and a colorful t-shirt. But she wasn't here to fit in, or even blend in - she was here to dance a little. The floor was largely deserted but that didn't slow her down at all. Soon, she was grooving to a natural high, her body shaking to the generic dance music.

She stayed until the DJ called the last song, a remix of Usher's Love in This Club. For the first time, she noticed the familiarity of the DJ's voice, right as he said, "And this goes out to my special friend out there tonight, Ms. Olivia. Welcome home."

Laughing, Olivia abandoned the dance floor and headed to the DJ booth. Sherman grinned at her as she squeezed in and gave him a hug. "How are you?" she laughed, taking his hands and giving him air kisses. He looked good; he'd always been rail thin with cooper skin from his Peruvian parents, and he used his inborn fashion sense to accentuate what he had.

"Good, but clearly not as good as you, girl," he grinned, looking her up and down. "Now, if you'd just let me do your nails and give you a pedi, you'd be fantabulous."

"I see you haven't changed," she giggled, holding onto this hands.

"Darling, the only thing I change is my boyfriends," he grinned, finally letting go of her hands. "Can you wait fifteen minutes while I finish up? Just go tell that sweet thang behind the bar that you're my friend and that you're single." He narrowed his eyes at her. "You're still single, aren't you?"

"Yes, Sher, I'm single," Olivia laughed.

"Tsk, tsk," he said. "Just go tell that chocolate god over there that you're free and we'll save you from being an old maid yet."

"Sher... not the time in my life," she sighed, quirking an eyebrow at him.

He studied her, his perfectly applied eyeshadow glittering. "Are the straight dicks being dicks again?" At her nod, he sighed. "You're coming over. We're doing our nails. We're talking until dawn. You cannot say no."

"Yes," Olivia said with a laugh.

"Good, darling."


"Ok," Sherman said once they were settled on pillows and Livy had her hands extended on his small table, "talk."

Olivia sighed as he painted on a clear undercoat. She could talk to him a bit; he'd never be curious about the actual details of her work, only the 'fun stuff'. "Well, I work for the Air Force now..."

"Get out! You? I bet you look sexy with a guuu-uuun..."

"And we're not supposed to have relations with our teammates..."

"Forbidden romance! Sex-ayh..."

"But my C.O. - commanding officer - and I have mutual, um... I guess you'd call them crushes..."

"Never settle for second-best, do you? Full-bore drama-llama..." Sherman slipped the drier over one hand and started on the other. "Is he tasty? Visuals, now!"

It wasn't hard to summon Damien Caine's image. "He's tall, with dark hair, and baby-blue eyes... built like a mountain..."

"Sounds like my type, not yours," Sherman sighed. "I thought you went for bookends, heads, whatever."

"I do," Olivia admitted.

"Sounds like true love to me!"

"He's my C.O. We can't." Sherman gave her a flat look, then switched hands and brought out a deep red nail polish. "Something more subtle, please."


"Yep. Well, we shouldn't. And he won't."


"Maybe. No, he's... principled. And there's more."

Sherman raised his plucked eyebrows in interest. "Do, tell."

"He hates this Lieutenant. They're like completely the same but total opposites."

"You're inhaling too many fumes. Make sense."


"CO? Or other?"

"Other. Vinny is rude and loud and boorish and not as hot as Caine."

"So he's Han Solo without the charm, roguish good looks or hot ship?"

"His truck is nice." Or so the rumors around base said.

"Ohh... ok, but you're still down charm and good looks."

"He's nice, sometimes." She thought of him pulling her behind a tree, of a smoldering look while holding her hand.

Sherman stopped his application of the nail polish. "Oh, girl... don't settle for nice. Settle for great. And I'm serious. He can be as ugly as a pancake griddle, rude as a surprise glory hole and boorish as an actual boor, but he needs to have something worthwhile."

"I know. I'm just..."

"Lonely? Messed-up? Horny?"


Sherman stopped and looked at her. "You have two options, girlfriend," he pointed out. "You can move past whatever trauma got you to this bad place, or you can die old, alone and an old maid. With a lot of cats."

"Sher... you don't understand." Olivia pinched her eyes shut.

The fey, gay man slapped the back of her hand, lightly. "I grew up in Arkansas. I know pain, babe. I don't know your pain, probably can't understand it, but unless we cling to it, it fades, in time. Let it go, honey. Be happy."

"It's not that easy," she said softly.

"Of course it isn't," he said, and went back to painting her nails.

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"Yeah, no comment is I believe the appropriate phrase."

Gwyn moved over and sat down nearby, putting the coffee and doughnuts between them.

"So, anything worth watching on TV, or do you feel like talking shop for a bit. Caine suggested I have a word with you about the results of the flight testing we did the other day."

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His answer was a terse shake of the head. "We shouldn't talk shop away from the base. We don't know who's listenin', or how secure this place is. For all we know, cops could be bugging Wakiki because he's a suspect for dope-running." The grim-faced man smiled faintly. "Not that I think it's likely, but you get the idea."

"I'm not much for company right now, Gwyn." he said quietly as he watched the flickering images on the screen. "I'd like to be alone for a bit, if you're cool with that."

The Welshman nodded and gave his team-mate a pat on the shoulder before snagging the leftover Thai and heading to his room. Dec relaxed, letting his eyes follow the TV while his brain ran endless different scenarios regarding a man named Bill.

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Olivia chewed on her lip as she carefully painted Sherman's toes. She wasn't as good at it as he was, and she had to concentrate. But she was still very aware of Sherman's long recitation of men. She'd asked about his love life, knowing that would keep him occupied for a while. Sherman was serious when he indicated that the only thing he changed was boyfriends.

"... and Dale, who was a spicy Puerto Rican, was my last squeeze." Sherman's face was peaceful as he watched her paint his nails.

Olivia raised her eyebrows. "No current squeeze?" she asked inquisitively, laying down one last brush stroke and capping the nail polish.

"Not at the moment," Sherman said, examining what she'd done.

Olivia smirked. "That's like a cat without fur," she laughed.

"It's not a time for that, in my life," he replied, taking a q-tip and wetting the tip with nail polish remover. As he touched up, he added, "I'm HIV positive."

Olivia blinked, stared, and then choked. "What?" she asked.

Sherman grinned at her. There was a brittle edge to that smile, but there was humor there, too. "Mmm, glad we did my nails first now? That way, you didn't get polish on your teeth."

"Oh, Sher," she said, twisting the bottle in her hands.

"Stop those shiny eyes," Sherman told her fiercely. "I am fighting this, so stop looking like I'm dying. I'm not."

Yet. The word wasn't said, but it hung in the air. Olivia stared at her friend, trying to imagine this lively, happy man living alone, wasting away from a disease. "So they caught it early?" she asked tentatively.

"Oh, yeah, David called me when he came up positive," Sherman said, smiling. "Give me your feet." Olivia slid her right foot over and Sherman began to stuff cotton between her toes. "And I got tested."

"I wish I'd been here," Olivia said.

Sherman put a fist on his hip and asked, "Why, girl? So you could single-handedly hold back the virus? Please... you have a life and I don't need a nursemaid."


"Still, I wasn't here."

"You aren't supposed to be," Sherman said simply, meticulously laying down a basecoat on her toes. "You are such a martyr. Makes me mad sometimes."

"What?" Olivia said, startled.

"Hold still." Sherman set aside the polish and leaned back. "You've done it for years. You're never good enough, so you work harder and try to be more than you think you are and next thing you know, you've exhausted yourself. At the same time, you manage to get hooked up with some guy, and it gets to a good point, and you start beating yourself up because you're not good enough for him, and you work harder still. So you're exhausted and emotionally destroyed."


"Don't deny it," Sherman told her, faux-sternly. "I've been your friend for a long time. Whatever Bill-" Olivia couldn't help it; his name brought a slight shudder. "Whatever he did, you have to move on, live your life. Don't let him kill you before you're dead."

That wasn't an easy statement to argue with a friend who'd just said he was under a medical death sentence. "I'm trying," she finally said lamely.

"You 'try' in really odd ways, girlfriend," Sherman said, smiling to remove the sting of his words.

"I mean now, from now on," she elaborated.

"Good," Sherman said, then started painting her toenails again. "I believe you. The Airforce has been good for you - I can see it. That's all I want to know," he told her, "that you're going to try to get better. I'll do the same, so don't worry about me and I won't mother hen you."


Olivia looked up at the windows to her brother's apartment and saw lights burning. Smiling, she told the cabbie, "I'll get out here, thanks." She paid her fare and let herself into his building with the key her brother had given her, then bounced up the stairs to his room.

"Oh, hi," she said, blinking when she saw Declan sprawled on the couch instead of Wakiki. "Didn't think you'd be up. Where's Waki?"

Declan hesitated and said, "With friends."

"Yeah, it's ok," Olivia grinned. "I know what that means. He is my brother." She sat down next to him. "Gwyn?"


"Ah," Olivia nodded. She stifled her own yawn. "So, you having fun?"

He gave her one of those slow, small smiles of his that seemed to be the truest expression he had, and said, "It's better than bumming around on base on my own. You're lucky to have a cool family."

"Yeah," Olivia said, letting her love for them shine through on her face. She sank a little deeper into the couch, her eyes drifting to the late-night movie. After a moment she made Declan stand up so that she could claim the afghan he was sitting on. Under its warmth, she started to fall asleep.

And that was when she realized she wasn't afraid of Declan. The realization chased back sleep for a moment. She was not afraid of him. She wasn't afraid of being alone in an apartment with her brother gone, nor was she worried about Gwyn being in the next room. She trusted both of them with her safety. They were her teammates. That was rare for her, very rare, and she felt a touch of happiness.

She almost told him, there and then. Three times, she drew breath to tell him the truth, to say what had happened that night, The Night, when everything changed. Three times, it burned on her tongue, and three times, she swallowed it.

She wasn't ready, not yet. But just considering telling them meant she was a lot closer to being ready than she had ever been before. Thank you, Sherman, she thought, smiling sadly as sleep slowly claimed her. I needed your kick in the pants.

Declan felt something brush his arm, and he glanced over as Livy's head finished rolling into a comfortable spot. Her forehead came to rest against his shoulder, and her breath rushed over his arm in warm, measured puffs of air. Her eyes were shut, and he felt her breathing deepen into peaceful sleep.

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The sudden closeness, the intimacy of the contact, left him a little surprised and discomforted. He was going to gently ease himself out from under her head. But as Dec glanced down at the dark head of hair and the long lashes that grazed Olivia's cheeks, he realised that he wasn't all that uncomfortable after all. There was an easy familiarity that went along with the intimate gesture, and in a mild flash of illumination he realised that she trusted him, really trusted him to never hurt her, never abuse her or do her wrong. After what Wakiki had told the ex-Ranger tonight, the import of Livy feeling at ease enough to sleep in the same room as him was not lost on Dec.

He relaxed under her, his free hand coming up and over to tug the afghan up more snugly around Livy's shoulders. And if his hand happened to brush her hair back from her sleeping face... well, what of it? They might be teammates, but they weren't out in the field right now, dammit. He turned his attention to the TV, now and then glancing down at his slumbering friend. In time, he too gradually fell asleep.

And the dreams didn't come for him this time.

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Gwyn had sat up from sprawling on the bed when he heard Olivia arrive, but stopped when he heard Dec say that he had gone to bed.

Probably best to leave it, she's good and helping him relax just by being around and that is what he needs most right now.

So Gwyn went back to the books he had downloaded onto his PDA before leaving the base and waited for the dawn.

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The rest of the week passed too quickly. Olivia was true to her word, and took them around sightseeing. One day they went into Oakland, another to San Francisco. Another to the beach, another to a park; they even, as promised, hit the Sake Museum. Berkeley was a fun town, and it was clear that Olivia had a love for its culture and quirks.


Gwyn continued to enjoy Mony’s company, though she was getting a bit clingy toward the end of his trip. Wisely, he dodged her attempts to get his phone number. He kept up on his physical exercise, working hard during the mornings, enjoying the afternoons and partying in the night.


Declan watched a lot of television and worked out. Olivia came over most evenings to have a late dinner with her brother – and sneak in an extra meal – and she ended up watching a lot of television as well. Her days were spent with her parents, usually fielding questions about her work, or gentle queries about when she’d be moving closer to them. It was nagging, but gentle nagging, and didn’t bother her too much. They loved her, and they didn’t understand, and that was okay anyway. She spent some time with Sherman. The man was comfortable talking about his coming struggles, and it was comforting to Olivia that her friend was at peace with it. She wished she was so calm.


Olivia declined most of the partying, only going to the concert on the last night, when Wakiki was performing. Declan declined, spending the night at home, and Gwyn went, but convinced Mony to leave early. After getting groped by a friendly drunk, she went backstage and remained there until Wakiki was done.


Early the next morning, Olivia's parents loaded her in their van, then went to Wakiki's and picked up Gwyn and Declan. Unlike the previous trip, it was much more quiet and subdued. Delayah, Harry and Wakiki walked them to their gate, Olivia arm in arm with her parents. She was clearly sad at leaving, all the delight from her arrival gone.

As Delayah and Harry pulled their daughter into a long hug, Wakiki shook Declan and Gwyn's hands. "Keep an eye on her for me," he said lightly, but the look he gave Declan was serious. "She gets in trouble," he added a loudly enough for her to hear. On any other day, he might have gotten smacked; today, he just got a sad smile over her father's shoulder.

"I'll miss you," Olivia whispered to her parents, holding them tight.

Harry didn't say anything, he just held her tighter. Delayah, her eyes already tearing up, murmured her own statement of missing her. Overhead, the call for boarding went out. Olivia released her parents to hug her brother, and Declan and Gwyn found themselves getting their own hugs from her parents. "Thanks for coming," Delayah said, smiling at them. "You're welcome back anytime."

The two Specialists made their own grateful and good-bye statements, and then they were out of time. A tearful Olivia got one more hug from everyone, and then they were boarding the plane. The leave with the Jenings-Izumi family was officially over.

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