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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Ice Cream Confessions [Complete]


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[Night after the Second Mission, before The Other Shoe]

The knock at the door brought a smile to Olivia’s face. She’d been musing over the material that had been left for her; she was all too happy to push that away for now, to focus on some relaxation and fun. Nearly bouncing on her toes, she skipped to the door and opened it. “Do you have the stuff?” she asked furtively.

Aradia giggled and nodded, leaning in to murmur, “Yeah, I got it. You got the cash?”

Olivia chortled before saying, “Yeah, yeah… get inside.”

The auburn haired girl skipped into the room and displayed the pint tubs of ice cream purloined from the commissary. She had remembered the spoons as well and the two got comfortable on the bed, Olivia sitting with her back to the headboard, while Aradia was sitting cross-legged. For a while they talked about inconsequential things – old friends, stories and dreams – that hadn’t already been covered. But in time, Olivia fell silent. Aradia sensed that her friend was working up to something, and was unsurprised when Olivia said, “I want to talk to you, but doing so will be a burden to you. I need my old friend, but… some of the things I need to say might cause problems with your CO. My relationship with my CO is wonderful; I don’t want to deny you the same. Do you get what I mean?”

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Aradia looked at her shrewdly, then arched a brow.

"Look, girl. I've known you eleven years. It's not my relationship with my CO that I'm worried about. It's you. You're the best friend I've got, and I'm not gonna toss that out the window so I can be buddy-buddy with my boss. Fuck 'em. Most people hate their boss anyway. I've been missing out on that till now. So tell me.. what's goin' on, girl?"

Aradia had always been a "speak with your hands" kind of girl, and she punctuated points of her conversation with a firm jab of her spoon in Olivia's direction.

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"No, he's not your boss," Olivia said firmly. She put down the spoon, burying it in the ice cream, to show how serious she was being. "He's your commanding officer, and you have to have a good relationship with him. At the very least, you need to respect him, because he's responsible for your mission and your life. I would trust Caine with anything, and I don't want to deny that with Wright."

She sighed, looking sad. "So I'm going to ask you - can you respect him as your CO, then listen to me bitch about him as a person with my bitchiness coloring your view of him as a CO?"

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Aradia scowled at her, then she sighed.

"Look, Livy. My Mom might have been the dumbest piece of shit I've ever known, but she was a damned good acrobat till she got on the drugs hardcore. And the fact that I can acknowledge that, as much as I hate her, should tell you I can handle it. But if he's a complete dipshit, I want to know that too, you know? Me not knowing isn't gonna make him any different of a person than he already is, and I'd rather go in prepared. You can't tell me the kind of person he is out of uniform or whatever isn't gonna show up on duty. You told me he'll be a good CO, so until I see otherwise, I'm gonna take your word on it. And that means I can give you my word, a hundred percent, that I will base my opinion of him as a CO off of my experiences with him. All I've heard about him so far hasn't been that great anyway, and not just from you. So at least you might be able to give me a little perspective. Is that what you needed to hear?"

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"Alright," Olivia said, clearly struggling with the decision before making her choice and repeating, "Alright. So. Vinny's Kuwait Guy." She paused a second to let Aradia process that statement before she said, "But there's more."

"More?" Aradia asked. "How about staring with the fact that you two were rumored to be dating before I showed up?"

Olivia flinched. "I really hate that rumor mill. Ok, here's the deal. I'll start from the beginning. I was out walking not long after touching the Artifact, and I ran into this guy. He was rude, I was annoyed, we talked... and kept talking. I don't know why I kept talking to him, at the time... there was just something about him.

"Then on the last night of leave a bunch of us were at a bar and a fight broke out. He pulled me out of there and took me to his apartment to let me clean up," Olivia continued, her gaze distant as she remembered that stressful, crazy night. "I saw another side of him, and we... it was fun." Seeing Aradia's look, she blushed and said, "Not like that! We talked a bit and had a wager which he won and got a token for, and then Caine picked me up. Before our first mission, we made another wager, the ribs one.

"When he got promoted, I thought someone should give him a party," Olivia continued, after a bite of ice cream. "And he said something that reminded me of Kuwait so I checked my old photos. And... it's him."

"Sonovabitch," Aradia muttered angrily.

"I said there's more," Olivia said, giving Aradia a crooked smile. "Once I've finished, we can call him names, ok?" Aradia nodded, caught up pleasure of hearing the unwinding tale. "So for a week I was pissed at him, didn't tell him why. I mean, it was clear that he didn't remember me, no shock. I've changed a lot. The night before this last mission, at three-freakin-a.m., he shows up and we have it out. And it was all a terrible mistake.

"The day he got to Berkeley, Bill came by to see me," Olivia said, her eyes clouding over with sorrow. Such a small thing, and it had messed up so much: the baby and then Hatchins and his friends. "He wished us happiness, and I gave him a hug. Vinny saw that but didn't stop to ask; he turned around and left without saying a word to me. So, he didn't abandon so much as didn't fight, which I once asked him to do. So you could say, he just did what I wanted anyway, except I would have wanted him to come talk before leaving." Olivia gave her friend a rueful smile. "Pretty wild, huh?"

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Aradia sat there for a moment, digesting the entire story. Then she sat the ice cream bucket down for a second, and leaned foward.

"So let me get this straight - Vinny is Kuwait Guy, except he didn't really ditch you so much as he showed up and thought you were makin' up with Bill the Bastard, so he left without talking to you about it."

Aradia sat back, and tilted her head back slightly, looking up at the ceiling for a minute. When she finally spoke, her voice carried a little less of the anger Livy had expected, and more sadness than anything else.

"Man.. life's a fuckin' bitch, ain't it? It manages to screw us all, no matter how hard we try."

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"Yeah," Olivia agreed, thinking about all the other ways she's been screwed by life. She was quiet for a moment before she said, "So now I don't know what to do. I... I really think I like him, despite what that says about my taste in men. He's rude, boorish, and pretty much everything I'm not. But he's a good person, too, in his own way. Life has been pretty harsh to him, too, but if he's the person I remember from Kuwait, he's loyal and protective."

She stopped and let her head fall back against the headboard. "But I don't know if I should. I don't know if I'm ready for a relationship with anyone. After Bill... I mean, there was Sean, but he was so special... patient and willing to wait for me."

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"Yeah, until he broke it off cause he thought you needed to go to some shrink so he could dope you up with happy pills or make you relive all the horrible moments of your life over and over. You ever notice how most people goin' to shrinks never stop goin'? That tells me somethin'."

Aradia sat back at picked up her ice cream again, eating another spoonful of it as she looked thoughtful.

"Look, I have to admit I'm a little biased. I haven't seen a lot of relationships that weren't all kinds of fucked up, and a waste of time. Most people in my experience are just using each other get get what they want. But I've seen one exception to that in my life.. and that's your folks. They're two of the nicest, happiest people I've ever known, Livy. I'm sure they've had their share of demons, like everybody. But they made it past 'em, whatever they were. And if you think you and Vinny could be happy, like them - I mean, not exactly, you know.. they're different people than you and Vinny - but you know what I mean. Then maybe you should go for it."

Aradia grinned at her playfully, and waved the spoon at her again.

"Besides, he might be rude or boorish, but so am I sometimes. So I guess if you had a problem with that, you wouldn't be friends with me, huh? Loyal counts for a lot these days.. there ain't a lot of loyal around in my opinion. Besides, he might have acted like a pansy back in the day at the wrong moment, but for a stupid mistake it sounds like he screwed himself out of a good deal too."

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"Yeah, I guess you were my practice for him," Livy giggled, smiling a little. She sobered up quickly as she thought for a moment. "I just don't know if we could be that way. That's kinda what I'm trying to decide. It was easy for Mom and Dad. They just knew. And that knowledge sustained them through Dad's terrible divorce and Mom having to raise me alone for the first two years. But... I've never felt that, not like that. The closest... damnit." She pinched her eyes shut.

"I don't know if we can repair what was done," Olivia said, her face crumbling. "I was... he doesn't know that I found out I was pregnant, and that I didn't-" She paused and swallowed hard as Aradia blinked at her. "When Dad found out he'd been in Vegas the whole time, hitting the gambling tables and strip bars, I... got an abortion." She looked at Aradia, her expression full of old pain never released. "Do I tell him? What do I do if he can't forgive that?"

She'd needed advice for so long, and it was pouring out of her, the desperate need for another voice to offer both solace and perspective. And one thing that Aradia had always been for her was another, important point of view.

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"Oh, honey, I never knew.."

Aradia sat the ice cream down on the counter, and shifted on the bed so that she was closer to Livy. Then she pulled her into a tight hug, offering the solace first so that they could get to the advice later. That was an awfully big thing to have carried around on her shoulders for so many years, and she was probably overdue for a comforting hug.

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"I know you didn't," Olivia said, resting against her friend, taking her comfort. "I didn't tell many people. It's why Ashley doesn't talk to me anymore. It wasn't because I got back with Bill. I told Sherman and my brother, too, but that's it.

"I just don't know... should I tell him? Does it matter anymore?" She laughed suddenly. "You know what's really messed up? Before I knew who he was, I let him join me for a memorial service for the baby and Mattie and her brother. Neither of us knew, but I must have suspected somewhere deep inside, because I let him join me." Her expression softened. "He helped me bury them, and then held my hand until I fell asleep."

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Aradia held Livy, and ran her fingers through the girl's curly hair tenderly.

"You've got to tell him, if you're going to try. It might not matter anymore, but it might matter to him if you don't tell him, you know? And besides, he's gotta understand what's going on with you. If you're gonna try something, it's important to be honest with each other."

Aradia hesitated, then she pulled back a little and looked at Olivia.

"You probably don't have to spring it on him all at once though, you know? You can tell him when it seems best. But.. who's Maddie and her brother? I don't remember you mentioning them to me before.."

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Olivia seemed to shrink a little. "They... it's a long story, and I can't tell you all of it," Olivia said softly. "It's a foothold situation, and those are always highly classified. Until I'm sure you're cleared, I'll just talk in generalities, ok?"

"Wait, foothold?" Aradia asked. "Another country tried to invade us? When?"

"Not quite," Olivia said, sitting up so that she could look at her friend. "Just remember, at the SGC, we're rarely concerned with the actions of another country."

"So... aliens? Those fuckin' sn- er, Goa'uld?" Aradia clarified.

Olivia had to chuckle at Aradia's near-slip. She didn't need any powers to know where she'd gotten that linguistic foible. "Exactly, though I can't say which aliens," Olivia nodded. "So I was the only one who could do anything about it, and my actions... it rewrote history. See, I remember two similar lives, one more clearly than the other. One is the same we share. In the other, Wakiki met a woman and married her, and they had kids. Well, one kid with another on the way." She closed her eyes. "What I did erased my niece and nephew, and my brother's happy marriage."

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Aradia was, for once, stunned into silence. After a moment, she spoke again, and her voice was a little shaky.

"Wait, so you mean the stuff we do here.. it can change history and shit?"

"Not usually, but.. it was an unusual situation."

Aradia leaned back against the headboard, letting that sink in for a minute, looking a little dazed. Then she closed her eyes, and shook her head.

"Man, that sucks. Wakiki deserves to be happy.. I'm so sorry Livy. But I'm sayin' that a lot today, aren't I? Shit, girl, you've had some crap to deal with, haven't you? I guess for Wakiki it's not so bad, if he don't remember it. It's you that it's hard on."

Aradia looked at her shrewdly, and arched a brow.

"We're in some heavy shit here, aren't we, girl?"

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Olivia nodded. "You should read some of the mission reports," she told her friend. "Reading them, you get a real idea of the importance of what we do. We're saving Earth, almost on a weekly basis. We're fighting creatures that would dominate or subsume the universe." She took Aradia's hand. "What we do here, it matters, and I don't mean the 'change one life to touch hundreds more'. I mean, when someone like me can stop an invasion... it makes you realize that we are the front lines of a pretty big war."

She glanced at Aradia. "I can tell you some pretty amazing stories about just the stuff that SG-1 has done. Awesome, terrible things that have meant that most humans can keep living a blissful, quiet life. They're real heroes... and now, so are we." She smiled at her friend.

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Aradia watched Livy as she spoke, and for a moment she closed her eyes as a memory flickered through her mind.

Click to reveal..

"I want to make the world a better place," Livy said, her eyes bright and her voice full of youthful vigor and enthusiasm. "I want to help it, to save it from whomever is messing it up." She hopped off the car and held up a hand. "I volunteer to save the world. Hear me, God? Olivia Sachi Jenings-Izumi here and ready for duty!"

Wakiki chuckled and shook his head but was quiet, watching her offer her services to whatever deity might be listening. He turned and glanced at Aradia. "You going to sign up for Earth's army, too?"

Aradia smiled up at him, and shrugged a little self-consciously.

"I don't know about all that.. I mean, I don't even know how you'd try and make the world a better place. Other than to make people happy.. and I guess I kinda do that already, you know? I mean, they may not be important people, or people from a third-world country or anything. But I make little kids smile. And adults, too. And that's kinda cool. But maybe I'd try to go save the world a little every now and then, if it meant I got to do it with you or Livy."

She glanced at Livy with a little smile, enjoying the girl's enthusiasm. Then she turned back to Wakiki and grinned at him.

"How about you?"

"Sure, why not?" he said. "I already do volunteer work with Mom whenever she does. And isn't that the entire way to change the world? Make it better one person, one block, one city, etc?"

He watched Livy watch them, seeing that fire of hope and idealism that his parents had fostered in her. He wondered what would happen when Livy faced her first setback - would she crumble under the pressure or would she overcome and thrive? He had no idea, and it scared him a little for her.

There was one way he could help her, be there for her. He could get himself involved in her little thing, so if she did do something crazy, he would be there with her. "Alright, Livy, you've convinced me. I'm in. But I'm oldest, so I get rank over you!"

"My idea, I'm top dog," Livy giggled, then looked at Aradia. "Come on, what do you say?"

"You could be reserves," Wakiki offered with a chuckle. "We'll call ya if we need ya."

Aradia laughed, and nodded.

"I like Wakiki's plan. Full-time acrobat, freelance hero. Make sure to call me for the major missions, huh? I'll be like that circus guy in X-Men.. what's his name? Nightcrawler?"

The cool night air had picked up, and the others saw Aradia shiver a little, and wrap her arms around herself.

"But right now we're on vacation, right? So how about we get outta here, and find a place for the night? It's gettin' kinda cold."

"Yeah, let's go," Wakiki said, hopping off the hood of the car and circling around to the trunk. He popped it open and tossed Aradia a blanket. "Here, warm up first," he said.

She looked at Livy, and bit her lip. But it was confession time, at Livy had already spilled her guts. It seemed like the least she could do to confess her fears to her best friend.. after all, she'd never had anyone else to confess them too. Livy was the only one she had ever trusted with them.

"You remember on our road trip? When you were talking about saving the world and all that shit? You know why I wasn't all gung-ho about it like you two were?"

She hesitated for a moment, picking up her ice cream and scooping out a spoonful of it to eat. Livy waited patiently, knowing she needed a moment to psyche herself up for what she was saying. Aradia had never really been the type of girl who shared emotions easily. But finally, she stuck the spoon in the container and looked up at Livy.

"Cause I'm scared, Liv. I don't wanna be responsible for anyone. I don't want to be anyone's hero. Cause I'll probably just fuck it up. Selfish is in the genes, you know? If it comes down to saving someone or saving myself.. I'm not sure I wouldn't save myself first. Unless it was someone I cared about, you know? Like you, or Wakiki, or Markie. It's why I never wanted to get married, never have kids, or any of that shit. Who the hell am I to take responsibility for someone? I barely know how to take care of my own fuckin' self."

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"I certainly don't think that's true," Olivia replied softly. "You're nothing like your mother, hon. Nothing. Selfish isn't in the genes, it's in the heart and soul, and no one who hates the way your mother acts can be anything like her. The fact that you're worried about it suggests that you are nothing like her."

Olivia gestured with her hands as she said, "Look, if your mom were here, what would she be doing? She'd be seducing the highest-ranking officer she could snag and trying to find a way to turn this to her advantage."

Leaning closer to her friend, Olivia added, "And I never would have asked you to join Earth's Army if I didn't think you have what it takes, Ari. When I look at you, I see a generous person. I see my friend."

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"Yeah well, you see the best in almost everybody, till they go and fuck it up anyway."

She looked at Livy dubiously for a minute, then her expression softened as she relented at the other woman's firm expression.

"Yeah, well.. we'll see. Not like I got a choice now anyway.. I think you prayed to your hippie gods and found a way to trick me into Earth's Army somehow. You're nicer, so hippie gods listen to people like you."

She reached across Livy with her spoon, scooping it into Livy's container of fudge swirl.

"Let's see what this shit tastes like, I've never had it before. It always looked too damned chocolate-y."

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"Funny, coming from a lady who always goes fruity," Olivia chuckled, glancing at the tub of sherbet ice cream parked on Aradia's lap.

She was quiet for a moment, watching her friend sample the ice cream. "I don't really believe in God anymore, Ari. I mean... what kind of God could be so vengeful as this One has been? I lost Vinny over a stupid mistake... then Bill abandoned me... then I destroyed my niece and nephew because I stopped an invasion. I've never been a bad person, I've always tried to do right instead wrong... and this is my reward for living a good life? At twenty-eight, I'm alone and terrified of half the population."

She shook her head. "I don't really see the best in people, not anymore. If God's cruel dictator, then humans are just tiny extensions of Him."

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Aradia was quiet at that for a minute, then she nodded. Time had wizened Livy up a bit, but it made Aradia a little sad too. She had always been so optimistic, and she'd known that she had changed, but she hadn't realized quite how much until now. She tilted her head at her friend, and wrapped her arms around her knees.

"You remember Mary the Mystic? The tarot-card lady? She believed in all sorts of gods, like the Greeks and the Egyptians and stuff. I dunno, I never really got it. Cause she didn't try and shove it down my throat, you know? But I remember I went to her once, when I was real pissed off at my Mom. And I asked her for a tarot reading to tell me why my Mom was such a bitch, and why I had to be her daughter. And she said.. "You don't need a tarot reading for that, honey. The gods give us challenges in our life to overcome. Your Mom is the way she is cause she was too weak to meet her challenges. So now she's your challenge, and you can be weak like her and succumb to her bitterness.. or you can rise above your challenge and be a better person for it." And I believed her. I mean, I don't know if I believe the part about the gods and shit.. but if God is real, then I guess that's the only reason I can figure that all this shitty stuff happens to people. To make us stronger. But I guess it's different for you.. you had it great growing up, and so that's a long way to fall to see what the real world is like. It hit you pretty hard I guess. For me.. well, there wasn't much place to go but up, cause my childhood was a damned hellhole. So maybe it's all just a matter of perspective, you know?"

Ari was quiet for a moment as Livy let that sink in. Then she chimed up again, but quietly this time, almost hesitantly.

"So.. you ever gonna tell me what else happened? It ain't losin' Vinny and all that shit that got to you so bad.. I remember you kinda picked up after that and you were doin' okay for awhile. Then it all went to hell. What happened, Livy?"

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She didn't want to tell her. She didn't want to tell anyone. But Olivia glanced at Aradia and remembered how much better she'd felt after her confession to Declan. Aradia was one of her oldest friends, predating even Sherman. And Ari had never steered her wrong before.

Her eyes dropped to her ice cream, and Olivia paused to cap the pint box. She'd lost her desire for the food, no matter how yummy it was. "I... it's hard to talk about this, Ari. I've never told anyone the full story... I've never told anyone even part of it. I acted crazy enough that Declan guessed it, at least part of it. Enough that I had to confirm or lie to him."

She got off the bed and started to pace. "The really awful thing about this whole thing is that had Vinny stuck around, it wouldn't have happened." The words were tumbling out of her, as Olivia struggled to work up to the awful moment when Aradia's view of her would change forever. "It was Bill, being with Bill was a mistake, the biggest mistake ever. He wasn't who I thought he was... he was a coward. Vinny would fight for me. He did fight for me, once. Vinny would have fought them all, and they would have gotten me only after his dead body."

She stopped and shook her head. "I should have swallowed my pride and chased him to the ends of the earth," she muttered, raking her hands through her dark hair. "I should have had faith in what I felt in Kuwait and tried to find him, to make him look me in the eyes and tell me to go away... we could have had it out, I could have told him about the baby and we'd have worked this all out." There was a sad expression on her face as she paused. "For all that he's a jerk sometimes, he wouldn't have done what Bill did."

Olivia jerked into motion again, pacing, her hands clenched. Aradia waited, letting Olivia tell the story in her own time. "Bill had some friends come over," Olivia said, her eyes distant. "I didn't know them. They brought some stuff we drink... they talked for a while. One of them said something that irritated me, and I smarted off to him. He hit me."

Aradia was quiet, her only sign of her emotions was the narrowing of her eyes and the clenching of her fists. She was able to remain quiet until Olivia said, "And Bill left the room." She paused in her pacing; realization crossed her face. "He... there was no preamble. They didn't threaten him. He left, as if they'd had some kind of signal." The threatening tears finally fell as Olivia said in an anguished tone, "I don't know why, but Bill set me up for... that."

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Aradia managed to keep her cool a little while longer - she had to know for sure, though a horrible sinking sensation was starting to settle in the pit of her stomach.

"Just.. what did he set you up for, Livy? What did those creeps do to you?"

Her gaze bored intently into Livy's, not angry, not accusing.. just insistent upon knowing the whole truth.

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Olivia was quiet for a moment, struggling to come to grips with what she'd just discerned about Bill. It was easier to believe him a coward than to believe he'd had some far more nefarious purpose for her. He loved her - how could he do that to her?

The sad truth was that he'd never loved her, not the way she'd loved him. That hurt, a lot.

Sniffling back tears, Olivia struggled with the next piece of the story. It took real effort to say, "They... took me into... the bedroom." She glanced at Aradia, asking her to understand without Olivia having to say anything more.

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Aradia sat there for a moment as the emotions crashed through her. She felt rage first, a blinding anger that someone had dared to do that to Olivia - she was so gentle! Understanding washed over her next, understanding of why Livy had become so very different. And sorrow - that was unexpected, because Aradia very rarely let herself feel sorrow for herself, and she'd never really had anyone else to feel it for.

Then, finally, she looked up at Olivia. She climbed off the bed, walked over to her, and brushed back a strand of her hair from her face. Livy could see tears welling up in Aradia's eyes. It was the kind of understanding you could only get from a woman - the men she'd told, they felt anger, rage, frustration. They wanted to hurt people, to make them pay. But they could never understand how horrible a thought it was to be violated in that way. It could never inspire the same kinds of emotions in them that it would in telling another woman what had happened. Even Aradia, usually so hotheaded and full of bravado, merely looked at her for that long moment with pain for her friend written all over her face.

"I know it was a long time ago.. but if there's ever anything.. anything you need. Just tell me. Hell, I'll even go cut their stuff off if you want, so we can rest at night knowing they'll never hurt anybody like that again."

It was a joke, meant to lighten the moment a little and pull Olivia out of her memories a little. But only kind of one.. Livy knew she'd do it too, if she asked.

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Olivia smiled, because she was supposed to smile when her friends were trying to cheer her up. "You're right, it was long ago, and none of them are here," she said, unaware of how very wrong she was. "I don't really need anything... I just needed to tell someone about it."

And it was true. She felt a little better, now that she had shared that with someone.

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"Okay. But if you ever *DO* need anything, no excuses. You don't even have to call me anymore, I'm right down the hall."

She smiled a little at her in return, though it was a faint one. Tonight had taken a major turn for the serious. But as upset as Aradia was about everything Olivia had gone through, at the same time some small part of her felt.. relieved, in a way. At least she didn't have to wonder any more.. she knew what had happened, and why Livy had changed so much from the carefree girl she used to know. In a twisted kind of way she even felt honored that Livy considered her a close enough friend to share that with.

She only hoped she'd be able to live up to her trust. And if she ever found out who those guys were, she might still have to do something about them... whether she ever told Livy about it or not.

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