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JL | LtJG Sha'mer, Doctor MacLeod | "One If By Chance" pt 1

Posted on 241709.06 @ 17:10 by Lieutenant Craig MacLeod & Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer

Mission: Ballynamony

Si’a’s eyes were wide and dark as the sea, with secrets moving, half seen, half sensed, beneath rippling water. Craig was certain she was a kelpie, for sure. A water horse, mane flowing, skin glowing. She had to be, and the man that touched such a creature is lost, bound to it forever, taken down and drowned in the sea that gave it home. Anaxar, for certain, was lost. He wanted to be, Craig reminded himself, he wanted to be lost for all eternity and Craig could only hope, and pray, that eternity would last a hell of a lot longer than a single night or two and far away from the hell they were in now.

The whiskey in Craig's glass swirled at the slightest movement of his wrist, catching the pub’s dim lights with ardor. It seemed almost glamorous, the warming heat of the liquid making everything seem so much better than it was, almost to the point of having him convinced that everything that had transpired the night before was a dream. Si’a could be a dream, Claire too, and Anaxar, and Landon. Yeah, Landon. Tall, dark, brooding, and resilient. He hadn’t quite gotten a handle on that one yet, and frankly he hoped he’d never have to. There were bulls less pensive than that man, and when he looked at Craig, Craig knew the gears were turning and likely not in his favor. There was no trust there, not in the way that Claire had opened up and certainly not the way that Si’a and Anaxar had. It shouldn’t have bothered him, but hell alive it certainly did. Landon, like Si’a, belonged to the stars all the same and he deserved to find his way back up there. It was written plain as day that he was trying to figure out how to get there, how to escape. The thin band of gold bound about the ring finger of his left hand explained the desperation, promising that it ran deeper than just a distaste for the weather and incarceration. And why shouldn’t he be? Somewhere out there a bonnie lass was flustered and worried that he hadn’t made it home.

Craig was about to take another sip when the awkward movements of a boy caught his attention. He wore a sling around one arm, and moved on a cane with a steady limp that immediately set to sobering the young doctor up. Something about him, though… Something wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was the delicate taper of his nose or the fact his eyes were so large, so innocent and doe-like. It was a trait Craig widely regarded as feminine. The boy’s clothing was noticed next. He was dressed down, but up at the same time, a fashion that was customary of high paid help. High paid help. Fine leather riding boots. The new Major’s livery boy. It clicked well enough even through the alcoholic fog and a plan began to spin up in the doctor’s mind. There was a chance there, albeit slim, he could impress upon the Major the dire urgency of releasing the star people, aliens, back to the heavens then maybe he’d take it up with the Magistrate and something fantastic could be done! It all needed to start with the livery boy.

“Aye, boy,” Craig called, nodding towards him, “Is a wee bit cold out, wouldnae be?” Stupid question, but all ice breakers were, “Come here, lad, let me see yer arm. I’ll nae hurt you.”

It was him! The man who looked at the stars with yearning, the one she had sensed earlier, when she searched for the other, the man whose mind stood out from the rest of his kind. He might be born here on this world, but he didn't belong here. Oh, but what his mind hadn't told her was that he had the most gorgeous eyes…

Mind on the job, Ra'lin!

She manoeuvred around tables and chairs as she made her way towards him and grinned, that impish grin which was always ready to leap out and welcome the world. "It's a bit nippy, aye," she said. For some reason, she was sensitive to accents and had a tendency to pick them up herself. Usually, she tried to hold it back – out of fear that the other would think she'd mock them, or because it sounded ridiculous to her own ears, or just because she didn't want to stand out as the weird one. This time, she didn't hold back. It seemed to fit.

"Do you mind if I-? Ahh, of course not, otherwise you wouldn've asked if you could see." Ra'lin grabbed a chair and gingerly lowered herself into one. Not using painkillers made all her movements genuine and authentic, oh yes, absolutely. Unfortunately, it also meant everything just freakin' *hurt*.

Oh, but it was good to sit down. Ra'lin sighed and stretched her legs, rested the sprained ankle on the good one, pinned her cane between the table and her chair, and ran her now free hand through her short hair. Then she looked at the man again, trying to avoid his intense, green eyes. "Are you a doctor, then?"

"Aye, lad." Craig nodded maybe a little too emphatically, the alcohol was still trying to convince him that it was a mistress worthy of all of his attention. Like a jealous whore it toyed with him, trying to drag him back into its embrace and he fought it all the while. This was far too important. Had he been sober he'd likely have noticed the refined nature of her hands, the lack of masculine knuckles or scars or callouses that came alongside working with horses and saddlery. He couldn't count how many times he'd had to doctor knuckles that had been drug against metal bits and bobs on harnesses when a horse was a bit too premature in dropping their head after a hard day's work. Seemed a daily occurrence, really. In last ditch cruelty, the whiskey had blinded him to such details. "A beast do ye in?" He asked, gesturing to the injured arm. It was a small risk. Word on the street was that the Major was a man of fancy and good breeding and had brought with him a fine physician.

"One of the mares," Ra'lin replied promptly. It was part of the cover story they'd concocted beforehand. "Skittish beast. I'm usually prepared for her antics, but this one time she took me unaware. Not even sure what startled her this time, but she just jumped straight up, the silly beast, and threw me. Normally I'm up in a flash, but not this time," she said with a smirk. She leaned forward, in his direction, with a slight wince. "Did you, ah, as a doctor, did you happen to see those prisoners? Bunch of the stablehands told me crazy stories. I'm sure they're pulling my leg, though. I mean, blue, really?"

"Och, aye. When I was a wee bairn my father took me each spring to the tamings. I can dae it well enough but..." His head shook heavily, "Not for the likes of me. Anything that big with its own mind is not something I want to cross." The boy was lucky he hadn't been killed, an animal so large against something so slight. It was a wonder to Craig that the boy hadn't been snapped in two, like a twig. Water was next, dousing the remnants of whiskey fire as he downed it and the lad leaned towards him. The question... Somehow he'd known it would be coming. If word of the travelers was out, he'd have no business denying it and this was his in. He could feel it. "Aye," he nodded, "Aye, one has skin blue as the sky. Antennae too." Craig's hands went up, abandoning his glass in favor of curled fingers mimicking Anaxar's feelers, "One has hair the color of the sea and eyes bigger than yours. Another one has spots from from his temples down his neck. The others are like yerself and I." Kind of.

"And they're really from…?" Ra'lin pointed up. At the doctor's nod of assent, she sighed. "That's just so amazing. To think that there are actually people, living there…" She coughed slightly, winced again as she realised, just too late, that even a fake cough was not a bright idea. She looked at him attentively, inviting him to talk, to speculate, should he want to. Even dulled with alcohol, the man had an amazing mind, sharp and… with a touch of something extra? Seriously? Ra'lin thought to herself. If this is another latent, I'm going to scream. Mentally. Really REALLY hard.

"Just be keepin it to yerself, lad. It likely willnae end well for them." Craig frowned with a heavy sigh, this was the part of the job he hated most, "They... Well they mess with everything we've all been taught about God and creation. We're nae alone." He mused out loud, the alcohol loosening his lips more than they should have been. Everything he spoke was heresy more or less, "The Magistrate willnae tolerate it or the lack of control it brings to think that people like them exist from where they come from. He'll brand them as unwieldy sorts sent from hell or summat." The very thought left him crestfallen, his hand searching for the impure and temporary comfort of his whiskey glass. It was empty, denying him further and it was just as well. "The one with the blue hair is dying anyway. Ifn they cannae be freed, I hope she goes before being sent to the gallows. She's peaceful for the moment, ye see." Damn alcohol.

Ohfuckohfuckohfuck- Ra'lin's wince this time had nothing to do at all with any physical discomfort. Fortunately, the doctor was no longer looking at her. He was staring inward, and judging from the look on his face (as well as his mindtone), he didn't like what he saw. "Do you think that's likely?" she asked softly, leaving unclear what 'that' meant: Si'a's death or the gallows. Or both.

He nodded, slow and somber and settled for his half empty glass of water, "Aye." The word scorched Craig's throat as he spoke it, "I'd bet my life on it less there be a miracle for the lot of them." The doctor smirked, his mouth twisting in thought before he picked his eyes back up to the stable boy's face, "I don't think Perkins would pardon them short of God himself showing up. He's a pious man, or at least he pretends ta be. They threatened his control over a mindless flock."

"We don't have God, but we do have some very well-connected people," Ra'lin said dryly. "If we can convince them it'd be a good idea to keep them alive, or take them away… I don't know… They can tell us so much. The scientific things alone! I mean, if they came from the stars… Killing them would be a crime. Who knows they weren't sent from, ah, God, to teach or help us? Then killing them would not only be a crime, it would be a sin." Again she leaned forward, intently, fist balled in a passionate, powerless gesture.

"Keep your voice down, boy. Most of these lot are drunk, but some may no be drunk enough." Craig hissed in warning, his eyes darting to be sure they hadn't caught anyone's attention. They hadn't and he was thankful for small miracles as it were, "Your master... The Major. It's obvious that he educates ye more'n most. Is he a man of science or a man of God?" The question sounded harsh because it was harsh. It was nearly impossible to be both and the implications were as high as the stakes, but he needed to know. It would speak volumes of his ability to convince them of the value in keeping the travelers alive.

Ra'lin looked around, glanced at the other people present. Nobody seemed to pay them any attention. Here went nothing. "The former," she said, quietly. "And act like you normally do," she added, just barely biting back an 'idiot!'. "If you want to talk… You wanted to examine my arm, yes? Well, shoulder."

"Not in the pub." Craig nodded, reaching to adjust the fit of the sling, "They dunnae take so kindly to doctoring inside the pub. Walk with me?" He asked, producing a handful of coins from his pocket and depositing them on the table. It was likely more than he owed, he didn't care. All that mattered now was that he'd made a connection that could help his patients in their quest for survival.

"Yes, fi- Ow." Ra'lin sighed, and stood up again. "D'you live nearby?" she asked as she followed him out. "Or, ah, what did you have in mind? I mean where? I.." she shook her head wearily. "Sorry. It's been a long day. For all of us, I guess. And. Um. Could you, just possibly, slow down a little?"

"I live just down the street." He replied, doing his best to slow down. When one had legs as long as his and had spent as long as he had moving through high snow and high grasses, slow movement on easily traversed terrain didn't exactly go hand in hand. "I'm a wee bit blootert, but I can carry ye ifn ye be needing me tae." Craig's offering came paired with a complete cessation of all forward motion, and he waited for the boy to catch up and either accept or decline the offer. This wasn't about the shoulder or the limp, it was about saving lives and by Jesus he was going to save them if it was the last thing he did... Or so the remnants of liquid courage told him.

"Nah, that's alright. Besides, with the way my luck goes these days, you'll slip on a patch of ice and I'll twist my other ankle." Ra'lin's impish grin flashed for a moment. "I'll be fine if you just stop trying to outpace a horse." There. All caught up with him. "Lead on, MacDu-… Hang on, I haven't even asked your name." Once again she shook her head, trying to clear it. The cold was beyond bracing, it was biting now. Ra'lin sighed, once again worried about her colleagues and friends. This had better be worth it. But it seemed this man, inebriated though he was, looked like her best shot to get to them.

"Doctor Craig MacLeod at your service." Craig chuckled lightly at the stable boy's plucky nature and feigned a little flourish and bow for the sake of propriety. "Our manners have slipped, havenae they? We conspire together but dinnae even fash to know names." It was laughable even when he wasn't drunk, or at least it would be. Truth was he didn't know why he was trusting a simple stable lad with such precious details and careful trust. He didn't know why at all when all it would take is him running to the right person and it would be Craig himself swinging by his neck at the gallows right beside the travelers. Beginning to walk again, he did everything in his power to pretty much crawl at a snail's pace in aid of the boy's much slower and unsteady gait. At least he could see the glow of candles and light from the fireplace illuminating his sitting room window. "Now much further at all."

"That's good," Ra'lin muttered. "Not far is good." She looked up at the doctor, and up. Why did everybody she met have to be this tall? Her CO was the exception, but not while they were on this planet: whenever Rochelle was riding, the height difference was in full swing there, too. "I'm Ray. This is the point where I'd give you a proper salute, only I seem to have my hands full at the moment. Consider yourself greeted, if you would be so kind." She grinned again, but even Ra'lin herself could tell the grin was fraying at the edges.

"Ray seems a good strong name for ye." Craig found himself nodding yet again. Whiskey be damned and cursed for all eternity right alongside the sleeplessness the situation had imparted as a so called gift. "I'll consider myself greeted." He all but mumbled as they reached his door and he trifled with the lock for a second or two before the door swung open. "Make yourself at ease. Whoever set you up was a good physician. Your master's?" It was a preamble if there ever was one, but it gave him time to wander the house in search of glasses and more water. His handmaid was quick to greet him at the scullery door, and he was quick to wave her off and back to bed. This wasn't something she needed to be part of and he found himself ever thankful that the older woman wasn't the type to gossip. Returning he held a glass out to the boy, "The cold is worse'n the heat when it comes to thirst. Drink up." He said, finding a seat. The boy needed to be made comfortable.

To Be Continued...

Lieutenant Junior Grade Ra'lin Sha'mer
Captain's Yeoman

Craig MacLeod


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