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Home is Where the Heart Is

Posted on Wed Dec 4th, 2019 @ 5:43pm by 1st Lieutenant Adam Fletcher & Private Elizabeth Martin

Mission: First to Flight
Location: Deck 30

For all the years that Adam had been a serving Marine, very little of that time had been serving aboard starships and so to him, being back at warp already left him feeling a little odd. It was the subtle differences in the way the ship sounded and a change in air pressure that almost everyone swore was his own imagination, none of it was particularly bothersome, just a little unfamiliar or at least it was for now.

Having finished his rounds checking on everyone else’s preparation progress, the first lieutenant was heading back to his office to finish the daily readiness report, each face he passed as he traversed the corridors of the [i]Ascension[/i] was becoming more familiar to him and visibly more comfortable aboard their home for the foreseeable future. Everybody had clearly settled in well and had become quite comfortable in their daily routines.

Or at least Adam had felt. Turning one last corner he was about to slip into his office when a sudden sense of something wrong washed over him. Turning quickly about, his eyeline quickly settled on a Marine he had known probably more familiarly than most of the rest.

Seeing her commanding officer had now noticed her, Private Elizabeth Martin turned quickly away, attempting to avoid eye contact as she wiped her eyes whilst clinging to her PADD.

"Private Martin" Adam called, fully aware that he was being avoided. No response the first time, he called again "Elizabeth Martin, come here."

Sucking in a deep breath, she obliged the order and approached Fletcher all the while trying to avoid eye contact with him. Close enough, she stood as rigid as she could muster but it was clear enough to the Lieutenant that she didn't want to be there.

Adam pondered enquiring if everything was alright but it would've been pointless, simply looking at the Private it was clear that everything was not. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Sir..." She responded quietly, staring all the while downward.

Fletcher was not buying it. "Alright then. Mind if I have a look?" He gestured toward the PADD she was holding onto so tightly.

Finally she looked up at him, almost surprised "I, Uh... I mean..." Sighing, she conceded defeat for the second time that day.

Adam didn't have to do more than quickly skim over the words that the display held. They were ones that he had seen a thousand times before over his thirteen-year career in one form or another and they never got easier. He hadn't necessarily expected to see a dear John quite so soon on the deployment though. "Come in" He gestured toward the open office door, "Please" He added before she could object.

Once again obliging of her CO, Elizabeth entered and took a seat. Still trying to avoid any kind of eye contact, she was embarrassed and simply didn't know what to say.

"I'm sorry" Adam told her, resting on the edge of his desk. "How long have you known?"

"It came through right before we left. Must've been sent right about when we left home." Her voice was quiet but she had finally looked up at him properly.

"Do you want to talk about it?" He asked sympathetically, "I can't promise I'll say all the right things but I'll try to help if I can."

Private Martin smiled very briefly "It's fine sir, It's not your fault."

"You're welcome to drop the formalities for now, Elizabeth. If there's anything I can do to help." He offered a small smile of his own "Short of ordering a hit, obviously."

Adam drew a laugh from the now forlorn private and his smile widened slightly

"It's just that we talked about it right before I left." She had finally found her voice. "I know it's such a long way but we had made plans. I offered them out before we even left earth and they turned that down, and now [i]this?[/i] I guess I just thought..." She trailed off, a flash of anger in her eyes dissipating as she finished.

"It's a hard thing to tell someone you don't want to wait for them" Adam spoke softly. "Doesn't mean they didn't or don't still care."

"I know" Elizabeth sighed "But we had plans. She was going to come out here and who knows? She could've even come aboard. There are families here right?"

"There are." Adam nodded, "But this is a special life and it's not suited to everyone."

"But we're all out here. We could all die tomorrow trying to keep them safe and she couldn't even tell me to my face? How is that fair?"

"It's not" The Lieutenant said simply. "But that's the life that we've all chosen, for better or for worse."

"It's bullcrap" Martin spoke with frustration.

"Yeah," Fletcher conceded. "Look, you're here for three months but if it'll help, I can send you back once the gateway opens again..."

"No" Elizabeth interrupted, "There's no need for that."

"Alright then." Adam stood, moving towards the replicator "Would you like a drink?"

"Got a beer?" She uttered under her breath.

Coming back over to his desk, Adam took his own seat this time, placing his cup of coffee on top of it and then reaching down into one of his drawers. It caused a mild shock when he produced that which she had (albeit sarcastically) requested, cold and all. "You tell nobody!" he ordered with a mischievous grin, rendering his subordinate almost speechless. "I'm told it's the only cure for this kind of heartache."

"Thank you" She spoke almost shyly, accepting the bottle, "You haven't had something like this happen to you?"

Fletcher chuckled "Not really. I mean i've been through breakups but never from anything particularly serious."

Elizabeth looked up curiously, "You haven't had any serious relationships? We all figured you were married!"

Adam let out another soft laugh, "Can't see it happening either."

"That's kinda sad though." Elizabeth frowned, "I mean you never know..."

"I suppose not." He conceded. "But i'm getting old now, and the odds out here are a lot lower than they were a few weeks ago, you know?"

Pvt. Martin took a big swig of her secret gift "You don't want a family of your own? Something to protect?"

"I have that." Fletcher's mouth widened into a long smile "My nephew and sister, and her family. That's enough for me." There was a long pause as he watched her take in his words, "What about you, Miss Martin, you gotta have some family back on Earth, right?"

She nodded as she took another sip, "My Mom. Protecting her was the reason I joined in the first place. I mean, originally I wanted to be a nurse like her but... well, you know. Things change."

"Nurse to Marine. Quite a change of career choice."

Elizabeth nodded, "See, Dad was an abuser - Not to me but to her. All she wanted was to make the world a little better and all he wanted was to beat it out of her. I figured If i became a Marine i'd become strong enough to stop it, but he died before I graduated from boot camp."

It had been a long time since Adam was truly speechless but the young Private Martin had managed it. "He picked a fight with the wrong dudes in a bar and they got him before I ever saw him again."

"I..." Adam hesitated, trying to find the right words, "I'm... sorry"

"Don't be" She offered a wide smile "Our lives got considerably better after that. Mom is moving out this way too, eventually."

"That's great, Elizabeth." Fletcher inhaled deeply. "Look, I know all this sucks" He gestured towards the letter she had received "But in time..."

"I know" the melancholy in her voice was unmissable. "I just..."

"I know" Fletcher interrupted. "Look, we're pretty short on combat medics. If you want, I could see if we can put you on a course. Not quite nursing but a decent first step towards that transition?" It was a strong 90 degree turn from the conversation so far but just maybe, Adam thought, it might help take her mind off things for a while.

"I... Really? I'd love that!" It was the first time since they'd run into each other that her face had lit up again.

"I'll talk to the medical department as soon as I get the chance" Adam smiled, standing up and picking up his readiness report. He'd be heading that way shortly any way, since he was yet to have his post boarding medical.

"Thank you!" She grinned before pausing, "For all of this."

"Any time." Adam smiled right back before she disappeared. Throwing the empty bottle into the replicator, he made his own exit. Next stop was the Captain.


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