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JL | LtJG Sha'mer, Doctor MacLeod | "One If By Chance" pt 2

Posted on 241709.06 @ 17:11 by Lieutenant Craig MacLeod & Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer

Mission: Ballynamony

Ra'lin had claimed a chair near the fire. The abrupt contrast between the cold outside and the heat within made her feel light headed, dizzy. She had tried to ignore the whole concussion, but now it made its presence known again. She rested her head in her free hand and closed her eyes. "Yes," she said without looking up. "He's very good." She opened her eyes again when he walked back to her. She took the glass with a grateful nod and drank, and was surprised to find her teeth rattling against the glass.

"Dae ye need a blanket?" Concern lit the doctor's voice as he watched the young lad sit fireside. To him it would have been too warm, even now that he'd taken off his over coat. "The boy was still fully clothed, "Last thing ye need is tae be Getting peely-wally when ye have tae be workin with horses." Craig's voice strained slightly as he got up again, deciding that a blanket would be worth its weight in gold. The linen closet wasn't that far off, and the green and white patterned blanket he tugged out would be plenty warm enough. Part of him wishes he could take one to Si'a and Anaxar but knew it would raise too many eyebrows. Tomorrow he'd start advocating for the lot of them to be placed together. That would help.

That, or a good night's sleep, or maybe a month, or one of their own doctor's friendly hypo's... "I'll be fine," she muttered her old mantra. She'd better be, or Rochelle would pull her off the mission faster than you could say 'ow'. But there was a point that pretending to be tough was no longer an option, and Ra'lin was getting close to that edge.

The touch of the warm, soft blanket startled her, and that abrupt movement made her wince again. But it warmed her up some, at least. She was no longer holding the glass, she realized, and couldn't remember either setting it down or giving it back. Grayed out, Ra'lin thought. Deliberately she moved her shoulder again. It hurt, it really bloody hurt, but at least she wouldn't be nodding off again.

Ever patient, Craig had sat in his chair and simply let the boy rest while he contemplated his options and ran the events of the past days over in his mind. The glass had found its way to his end table, safe from spilling on the wood floors or the boy's lap. Clothes wouldn't dry in time to be safe enough to venture out in the biting cold with and nothing in his wardrobe would fit such a tiny fellow. The next thing he realized was that he was being watched by those impossibly wide eyes, studied for all he was worth. "I should be walking ye home," He rumbled, his gaze remaining fixated on the fire, "It's late and I'll be needin tae tend tae the..." Pausing, his head shook slightly. The word aliens felt so wrong, so did beings, but one was less inflammatory than the other, "tae the beings in the morn."

"Of course…" Ra'lin murmured. She had been staring at him, she realised. She hadn't meant to. But his mind, the inner shape of him, it was too fascinating. There was something… she couldn't quite put her finger on it. He had… well, definitely not the same mind-taste as Ra'lin and her collegues, but he stood out from the people around him, as well. A square peg in a round hole. He'd never fit in, even if the man would never really understand why either.

Craig's voice had jerked her out of her thoughts. "Of course," she repeated, a little louder. "Normally I'd decline your kind offer to walk me home, but under the present circumstance, I accept your offer with kindness and grace." Not quite the words a regular lowly stable boy would use, but then, maybe Craig would think the language of her master and mistress had rubbed off on her. Him. Whatever.

She sighed again and slowly got up. "Let us go, then." Before I really fall asleep where I stand…

Fetching his coat, Craig was up far quicker than he should have been and his head spun as a result. It took a couple steps before he was able to regain a solid bearing and his sea legs. Beneath him, he could feel the planet spinning on towards daylight. "Aye. Dinnae fash yerself, lad. It's the least I can dae after keepin ye out late." He replied as he reached the door and motioned for the boy to head out in front of him as good graces and etiquette would dictate. It felt even colder than before. "Not gonnae be a nice day tomorrow. More snow." He muttered as he turned to lock the door behind them, "Least ye've got the warm stables and beasts. Garrison is a dank place."

Ra'lin smiled tiredly. "Warm is good. Thank you for sharing yours." She stepped out into the cold and gasped. Trilista could be cold at times, but either the colony had been build at a different latitude or the planet itself was kinder, for this cold stabbed like a knife. Shivering, she began to walk. Now she really was grateful for the cane.

Yes, warm stables would be good. She had never actually 'snuggled in the hay' as so many old stories had people do, but she was looking forward to the experience. Any kind of experience, as long as it came down to 'a nice warm place where one could sleep and forget about pain for some time'. She wondered if it would be totally out of character to approach Lt. Ch’Valenvok and ask for a painkiller. With a scowl, Ra'lin decided it would be. Best not take chances and stuff. Besides, she had volunteered for this mission, had she not? Deal with it, and all that crap.

The stars above were bright, oh, so bright. Soon they would be drowned out by the treacherous sun. And not for the first time Ra'lin wondered how much time this poor world had. This world, and all the people on it… Soon, they all would perish. All, including this good man, with his gruff voice and his kind heart.

"Och aye, lad, was no bother. I just hope that we can be o'service to the beings somehow." He replied as they crawled along the frozen street at a snail's pace. No horses stirred, no sounds at all rose, aside from the bark of a farm dog off in the distance. Had he known about the impending doom of the planet, he'd likely have remained just as calm and collected. There wouldn't be a thing he could have done to stop that chain of events, fighting them would have been futile and useless. Instead he was blissfully ignorant of the peril his world was in, walking with his hands crammed down deep in his coat pockets and his shoulders raised up to guard his ears from the biting chill. He needed a muffler, had forgotten his, but firelight glowing in the windows of the Major's grand brick home loomed just a short distance ahead at the foot of the street. King's domain, or so they'd joked back when it was the home of General Rutherford. The stables and carriage house would be around back, a path well trod by horses and carts serving the Major and his family.

"Ye keep looking up. Why?"

"I just love the stars..." Ra'lin replied automatically and truthfully. "You can look all the way into infinity..." Careful, Ra'lin. These people don't know anything about the speed of light, or time. "They always seem to beckon me. Part of me yearns to be out there, up there, far away from here..." She smiled again, then gave an awkward shrug. "I know, got to get my head out of the clouds and keep my feet on the ground. But it's not easy on nights like these."

Craig couldn't help but smile at the boy's explanation and nod in whole hearted understanding and agreement, "When I was but a wee bairn, little younger than yerself, I would lay up on the hills and watch fer hours. I was pretty convinced I'd be able to reach them someday." He recited with amusement alight in his voice, "My father thought I was bloody cracked. Now I know he was wrong, and Laird Norman MacLeod of Dunvegan is never wrong, but the proof is sitting in the garrison as we speak. Funny how things work like that."

"Life can be strange…" Ra'lin said softly. She walked even slower over the uneven path, where the mud had frozen stiff and small patches of ice were hidden under a thin layer of snow and grime. Treacherous even for a sure-footed person. The last thing Ra'lin needed was another fall. Once she almost did slip, but she managed to regain her balance in time. "Nearly there," she added. She could already smell the stables, the warm scent of horse, straw and some less savoury smells. Cleaning the stable tomorrow was not going to be fun.

"Life is strange. Anyone telling ye different is selling ye summat." Holding out a hand he helped steady the lad. Ray was a slight thing, small by most standards even for a boy of his general age. He wasn't the strapping young lads Craig was used to seeing acting as livery attendants, but that didn't mean much. The Major could have been kind of heart and gave him a chance instead of relying on the more boisterous boys to get a job done. Or maybe Ray just had that magic touch that horses often required, temperamental as they were. The barn doors were easily opened so long as you had decent footing and two working arms, Craig was more than happy to assist in getting them out of the boy's way and reached to pull down a lit lantern for him to carry and light the rest of his way to bed with, "Ye should be asking yer master's physicians fer something fer the pain, boy. Ifn he hasn't anything, come fetch me and I'll see what I can dae. Now I just need tae figure out how to gain audience with the man. Hard when I havnae thing to offer him." The doctor sighed, running his fingers through his hair and chuffed, shaking his head, "Not summat I should be troubling ye with, boy. Sleep well."

Oh, it was much, much warmer here than it was outside. Still quite brisk by normal standards, but 'normal' had a different meaning down here. She sat down gingerly and wondered if it would be worth the bother trying to get her boots off. Her feet would be grateful, but her ankle would not. Choices, choices… "Who knows… life being as strange as it is, a chance might be presented to you. A random meeting, people talking… Who knows how things go." Ra'lin carefully shrugged out of her coat (only one sleeve to deal with, she just folded it over the injured shoulder, so getting it off was easy enough) and wrapped herself in her blanket instead. "Thank you, and I wish you a good sleep and pleasant dreams."

A genuine smile repainted the lines of the doctor's face, the hope the boy exuded was somewhat infectious even though his own thoughts were so muddied and tainted by the weight of his work and the lives at stake. "Aye. Yer right with that, lad, yer right with that." It didn't take much to warrant the boy with that agreement, not much at all. It felt right that he pluck from him some sense of chance. If it as meant to be, it would be. Fate would see to it. "The same to ye. Be well."

Leaving the boy to the rest of his evening, Craig made haste on his way back home. The idea of warmth and a chance to recharge his weary soul seemed the very best of ideas on such a frigid and strange evening.


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

Craig MacLeod


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