seaQuest: The Dawning
Life has settled down for two seconds here on the good ship seaQuest. I have moved up from WHSKR duty and have been shadowing Tim at communications this week. Iím lucky that weíre docked at Antereat this week. It gives me time to learn the systems without being overwhelmed.
Iíve been trying to keep myself busy. Itís the only way I can get through the days. If I sit still, even for a moment, my mind starts to spin, and I can hardly breathe. Dr. Smith says that Iím trying to create control in my life by structuring everything around me. Thatís why Iím working so hard, putting in extra shifts, studying during my time off. That may be true. All I know is that everything Iíve grown to love and trust in the past 22 years has disappeared. And the only support I have is coming from a source that I didnít expect.
I never thought Iíd be going through all of this. I never imagined my life would turn out this way. Though I guess I should have known. Nothing ever stays. Jim has been so supportive, which is amazing because I didnít think he would be. Though I think that he feels guilty about the miscarriage. I think he blames himself in some way, even though I told him that it happened long before I came aboard. But I think he feels guilty for other reasons too. Weíve never been the kind of brother and sister that the other one wanted. We were too embarrassed about the Brody family shit, and too tied up in our own worlds to become close. It took this to get us to put everything aside.
Ultimately, though, Iím glad that heís back in my life, even if it took horrible circumstances to put him there. I just wish that...
There was a knock at the door.
Jim Brody peeked his head through the door.
"Hey, whatíre you doing?"
"Writing in my diary." Carefully, Joey placed her bookmark and closed the book.
"Yep. Dr. Smith says itís good therapy."
"Is it helping?"
"Not really. But Iím still going to humor her. Maybe itíll make sense someday."
"Come on, letís get out of here." Jim suggested.
Joey looked up.
"What? Where are we going?"
"Out." Jim grinned. "Come on. I talked to the commander, and he agreed that since we were docked, you and I could go out for a few hours and not be missed."
"I thought you and Ford didnít get along."
"Ah, we get on each otherís nerves sometimes, but itís just a command thing. Heís a good guy."
Joey looked down at her journal.
"I, uh, I appreciate it, Jim, really. But Iím just not in the mood."
Jim sat down on the bed and sighed.
"Jo, come on. You need to get out of here, and I could stand to get off the boat, too. Besides, when was the last time I got to take my little sister out for dinner?"
Joey couldnít help but smile.
"Well, I guess that would be never."
"Exactly. Come on. Letís go."
Jim picked a nice Italian restaurant near the docks for them to dine in. Tables were set on a balcony bordering a beautiful, hardwood dance floor. Tall white tapers flickered on every table, while soft music played in the background, courtesy of a 5 piece jazz ensemble on a small stage.
"Jim," Joey said, looking around the inside. "This is too nice of a place."
"Hush." Jim said, taking a sip of water. "Itís perfect. Besides, it got you into a dress."
Joey looked self-consciously down at her blue satin dress. Jim had insisted that they dress semi-formally for the evening, and he himself was wearing a black jacket over a blue shirt and black pants.
"Yeah, well enjoy it while it lasts. I never wear dresses. You should feel special."
"Oh, I do. Trust me, I do." Jim grinned. "So, what sounds good to eat?"
Joey opened her menu and scanned the pages.
"The seafood alfredo sounds good."
"Havenít gotten enough of the ocean yet?"
"No, not yet. Youíre the sailor, remember? Iím the pilot."
"Yeah, but youíre friends with Darwin now, so you get to face his wrath."
Joey glared at him.
"Unless Iím mistaken, Darwin isnít a vegetarian. He eats more than his fair share of fishy friends."
"True enough. Seafood sounds good. I, on the other hand, will have the smoked-mushroom ravioli."
The gave their orders to the waitress and then Jim leaned forward in his chair.
"Have we ever actually sat down to dinner together?"
Joey shook her head.
"Unless you count the mess hall on seaQuest or Miramar."
"How the hell did we manage that?"
"Well, how many times have we actually been in the same room? After my mom died, and I came back to the states, you were already in military school." she smiled, weakly. "I was so scared to get in contact with you."
"Why?" Jimís brow furrowed.
"Because you had your own life here. Your own family, friends, and world. And here I was, another family member you had to explain. How exactly do you tell your friends that you have a sister who was given away when your mother went into cryogenic stasis?"
Jim looked down.
"You werenít given away, Joey."
"Thatís what it felt like. It was a long time before I could understand that your grandmother and grandfather couldnít possibly take responsibility for children after your mother was put into cryo."
"They couldnít raise me either. And Iím sure you had to explain my presence, too."
"To whom? The people who ran the childrenís shelter?" Joey took a sip of water. "The only thing I could do was send you a letter and try to explain who I was and where I had been."
"You were only 8. I was 10. But I still have that letter."
"You do?" Joey raised her eyebrows. Jim nodded.
"I actually have every letter youíve ever sent me. Theyíre locked in a box in my quarters."
"Wow." Joey grinned. "I guess itís my turn to feel special."
Their food arrived and Jim took a bite.
"Of course I kept every letter, Jo. I mean, youíre my sister, the only blood relative I have, besides grandma and grandpa. Even if we werenít able to see each other, the letters we sent meant a lot to me."
Joey chewed a bite of shrimp.
"I actually have your letters, too." she admitted. "I used to write a lot, but I learned pretty quickly that it was not a good idea to keep a diary. So your letters were kind of like my diary."
"Why couldnít you keep a diary?"
Joey looked down.
"Because, if people know what you are really thinking of feeling, then they can use it against you. The only way to protect yourself is to let them think that what they say to you doesnít hurt."
"Donít be." Joey shook her head. "You couldnít have changed the way I grew up, going from foster home to foster home, and everywhere in between. And honestly, I wouldnít have either. The way I grew up made me as strong as I am. I donít regret it. Besides, growing up wasnít easy on you, either."
"We both got shafted when it came to having a childhood."
"Kind of makes you wonder why we both went into the military, doesnít it?"
"Well, Iím sure Dr. Smith would say that we were trying to exact an element of control in an otherwise unstable life."
"Spoken like a true shrink. Is that what sheís telling you, now?"
"Yep. She says thatís why Iím working so hard."
"And is it?"
"I donít think so. I mean, maybe, a little. But Iíve always taken on as much work as possible, because it keeps me moving. It keeps me from sitting still, which I canít stand."
"Because if you sit still, you think too much?"
Joey looked at him.
"Something like that."
"Iím not one to talk about hiding behind my work. I have a reputation on board as "Lieutenant Tough Guy"."
"Iíve actually heard that a time or two since coming on board." Jim leaned forward.
"Are you kidding me?" he exclaimed. "Damn, I had hoped that had died off. What else did they tell you?"
"Nothing. People are still trying to figure me out, I guess. Good luck. Only two people have ever really understood me." Joey looked down. She hadnít meant to bring up Jasper, even in implication, but that was what had happened. Jim saw the look in her eyes, and knew what it was about. He tried to change the subject.
"Manda and you seem pretty close."
Joey looked up, grateful that he had moved the topic.
"Yeah. There is nothing that Manda doesnít know about me. Absolutely nothing. I donít have to worry about telling her anything, because I know she wonít judge me. And I donít have to explain anything to her, because she already knows."
"Have you talked to her recently?"
"She sent me a letter a couple of days ago. She and Alex were transferred to Miramar East. Theyíve gotten engaged."
"It really is a good thing. Iím happy for them. But, it makes it sort of hard for us to talk now."
"What about me?"
Joeyís brow furrowed.
"What about you?"
"You said that Manda knows everything about you, and that you could tell her anything without her judging you. What about me?"
"Jim, what you donít know about me could just about fill the Grand Canyon. Which is what kills me, because youíre my brother."
"Iím not going to judge you, Joey."
"I know." Joey took a sip of her drink. "And weíll get there, you and I. Iím just getting used to having you in my life again."
"And Iím getting used to having a little sister again. But I have to say, I like the feeling."
"So do I"
Music began flowing through the sound system, and Jim glanced toward the dance floor. He recognized the song. It was one from his youth. He couldnít remember the groupís name, but the lyrics spun through his mind.
Iíll be your dream, Iíll be your wish, Iíll be your fantasy,
Iíll be your hope, Iíll be your love, be everything that you need.
He looked at Joey.
"Do you want to dance?"
Joey looked surprised.
"Um...Iím not...I mean..."
"Come on." He stood up and stretched out a hand to her. After a momentís hesitation, Joey lay her napkin on the table and stood up, placing her hand in his. He led her to the dance floor and gently spun her to face him. He placed his hand on her waist, and pulled her to him. Smiling, they began to sway to the music.
"I had no idea you could dance." Joey said. Jim grinned.
"Joey, what you donít know about me could just about fill the Grand Canyon." He teased. "Seriously, though. Grandma thought that every boy should know how to dance, so when I was 8, she enrolled me in a ballroom class at the local studio."
"Oh, really?" Joey couldnít picture her tough, hyper-masculine brother in a dance class. Jim nodded.
"Oh yeah. I caught hell for it, too, on the playground. But it taught me how to fight pretty quickly. And, of course, it helped me to get the girls. Ladies love a guy who can dance."
"True enough. You do realize, though, that none of the women here are going to look at you tonight, because youíre here with a woman?"
Jim shook his head.
"I donít care. Iím here with you."
Jim looked at her, his eyes memorizing the waves of her hair, the shape of her eyes, her chiseled cheek bones. So much like his own. It seemed impossible that this was the same little girl who had sent him a tiny, private-school picture so many years ago. Over the years, he had seen her grow and change through the vid screen, but here and now, he wondered exactly when she had grown up. Meanwhile, Joey was wondering the same thing. Looking into his eyes was like looking into a mirror. This was the person who could understand the disaster that was their family. This was the other Brody who had been shoved aside, and passed to one person after another after their own family couldnít care for them. Somehow, the person whose letters had kept her sane, whose kind words gave her strength when she had none of her own had grown up, and had become the man standing before her. This was the missing person, the one she had been searching to find for so many years.
Jim watched as a tear rolled down her cheek.
"Hey." he stopped, gripping her arm gently. "Are you ok?" Concern etched his face. Joey sniffed and wiped the tear away with her hand.
"Yeah, Iím fine." She smiled. "Runaway tear, I guess."
Jim wasnít so sure, but he let it slide. He glanced at his watch.
"I donít mean to cut this short, but we have exactly one hour before we become AWOL. Is there anything that you wanted to do? I mean, this will be the last time we see the shore for awhile."
"What IS there to do here?"
"I donít know. But we can get out of here and just wander, if you want. Thereís a main street up the way that looked like it had a promenade to walk along."
"Letís just go and wander. See what adventure that we find."
"Oh, jeez." Jim rolled his eyes. "Watch what you say. Those are famous last words, at least where seaQuest is concerned."