James Brody sat on the bed and stared at the photograph in his hands. He ran his fingers along the surface, letting them pause for a few moments on the woman’s face. He inhaled raggedly and put the photo onto his desk. He took one last look at the image and then lay back onto his bed.
He put an arm over his eyes and sighed. “Mom,” he whispered, “I miss you.”
Miguel Ortiz and Lonnie Henderson were silent as they walked through the corridor. They stopped outside of a door.
“This is a bad idea,” Miguel said as he knocked on the door. “Jim?” He waited for a reply, and not getting one, knocked again.
“Maybe he’s not there,” Lonnie said.
“He’s there,” Miguel replied as he knocked once more.
Brody looked at his door and sighed.
GO AWAY! his mind screamed. “What?!”
“Open up,” Lonnie called through the door.
NO! Damn it, leave me alone!! Brody sighed as he stood and walked to the door. He keyed it open and stared at his visitors.
“Are you all right?” Lonnie asked.
“Anything we can do?” She motioned to herself, then to Miguel.
“Leave me alone, and stop worrying about me.” He pulled his head back inside, and closed the door.
Lonnie looked at Miguel with shock and worry.
“Told you,” Miguel said. “Come on.” He stared to walk away, but Lonnie stayed where she was. “Lonnie,” Miguel said with a sigh. “Jim’s not ready to deal with this just yet. Give him some space.”
“But…What if he doesn’t deal with it?”
“Whatta ya mean?”
“What if he decides to hide in his room forever?”
Brody pulled away from the door and went back to his bed. Doesn’t deal with it?…Hides in his room forever? The words he had overheard echoed in his brain as he once more lay down on the bed.
Brody stared at the ceiling for a long time before getting up, grabbing a few things, and heading for the showers.
“What are you doing here?”
Brody looked at Commander Jonathan Ford. “I work here, remember?”
“But you’re still on leave,” Ford said kindly.
“Not anymore,” Brody replied as he glanced around the seaQuest’s bridge. “I signed myself back on as active.”
“Are you sure?”
Brody blinked a few times. “Positive.”
Ford nodded. “All right. Take your post, Lieutenant.”
“Aye, sir.” He paused, wanting to say more, but stopped himself. Brody sat at his console and looked around the bridge again. A few people were watching him, while others were more discreet about it.
Miguel tried to concentrate on what he was doing, but his attention kept getting drawn to the conversation at the table behind him. The pair talked in hushed tones, and he could only hear little snippets.
“Shouldn’t be back at work”…”Since his mother went back…been weird”
Miguel blinked as his last spaceship was blown out of the sky, and put the video game down on the table.
“Look, there he is,” a voice whispered behind him.
Miguel glanced at the door, not really surprised to see Lieutenant Brody enter. Miguel sighed, stood, and sat between the two seamen at the table behind him.
“Chief?” one of them said. “Did you want something?”
“I rarely ever do this,” Miguel began, “but I am about to give you two a direct order.”
“Sir!” they both replied.
“From this point forward, there will be no more gossiping about anyone.” He paused. “Understood?”
“Good,” Miguel smiled. “Now let’s see those snappy salutes, then back to work…before I get annoyed.”
They both stood quickly, saluted sharply, then left. Although Miguel was extremely even tempered, they knew that he could be as equally dangerous when he finally did get angry.
Miguel smiled as he watched the pair scurry off.
“What was that??”
“Lieutenant,” Miguel nodded. “What was what?”
“You being saluted,” Brody said as he placed his try on the table and sat down. “Don’t tell me that you actually issued an order.”
Miguel laughed. “Surprising, isn’t it.”
“Next thing I know, you’ll be writing your officer’s exams.”
“Hmmm, “ Miguel thought. “Lieutenant…no…Commander Ortiz…yeah, I like that.”
Brody laughed, then stopped; surprised at himself.
“How are you doing?” Miguel asked.
Brody shrugged. “Okay, I guess…I just had to get back to work…keep my mind occupied.”
“Is it working?”
“Not really,” Brody sighed. “But it has to be better than staring at my quarters all day.”
“Have you talked to Wendy?” Miguel suggested.
“I really don’t want to.”
“Why not? She’d be able to help.”
“Wendy…makes me…nervous.” Brody blushed slightly.
Brody tried to shrug it off. “You know…she’s…”
“She’s what?” Miguel asked as he tried to hide a smile. “A doctor? A female? A psychic? All of the above?”
“Aww, forget it,” Brody said as he started to eat.
“She use to make me nervous, too,” Miguel admitted. “But I tell ya, after that first physical…”
Doctor Wendy Smith looked up at the knock on her open door.
“I’ll come back later,” Brody said and turned to leave.
“It’s all right, Lieutenant,” Wendy said as she stood and walked to him. “Please, come in.”
“It’s not fair,” Brody said calmly. “I got my mother back just in time to lose her again.”
“How have you been dealing with this?” Wendy asked. “Have you gotten mad? Yelled? Beaten up on a punching bag?”
“No…no…and no.” Brody answered. “What’s the use?”
“It would unleash some of your hostility.” Wendy paused. “Even crying would help.”
Brody stiffened. “I don’t cry, Wendy.”
“It’s not a sin to cry.”
“It is for me.” Brody stood. “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but I don’t need it. I’ve done fine alone.”
“I’ve done fine on my own.”
“That’s not what you originally said.”
“Sure it is.”
Wendy stood. “You said ‘I’ve done fine alone’. Is that how you feel? Alone?”
Brody stared at her, then leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. “I want her back,” he whispered. “I want my mom back.” Feelings that had been building since his mother Alison had gone back into cryogenics started to surface.
“Damn it!” he yelled as a tear fell down his cheek. He brushed it away furiously. “I wanted more time with her! Was that too much to ask for?!”
“The few days she was here, I was happy.” He paused. “I don’t really remember her when I was younger…Was she really here? Or did I dream it?”
“She was here,” Wendy assured him.
Brody closed his eyes, desperate to hold onto those words.
Jonathan Ford paused for a moment, then knocked on the door. He stood back as it opened.
“Look guys, I already told you…” Brody stopped when he saw who it was. “Sir?”
“Lieutenant…Jim.” Ford smiled briefly. “I just wanted to see how you were.”
Brody resisted the urge to close his eyes in annoyance. “I’m fine.”
“I know we didn’t get off to a good start,” Ford began, “but if you…well, you know where to find me.”
Brody seemed slightly taken aback. True, they had not mixed well when he had first arrived, but over time they had settled into friendship. “Thanks…How about a game of pool?” He motioned to the table in his room.
“So,” Brody said as he sank a ball. “Who asked you to check up on me? Bridger, or Wendy?”
“Both, actually,” Ford admitted easily. “They’re worried about you.”
“And you’re not?” He moved around the table.
Ford shrugged. “I figure that you’ll talk about it when you want to talk about it…and work through things in your own time.”
Brody looked up at him before he sunk another ball. “You and Miguel are probably the only two that think that way. Everyone else is bending over backwards to get me to talk.”
“Tell them to piss off.”
Brody blinked in shock. “Did you just say that??”
Ford smiled. “You repeat it, and I’ll deny it.”