Old Soldiers


carver_icon.gif colette4_icon.gif kara_icon.gif lucille2_icon.gif megan_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title Old Soldiers
Synopsis Veterans of wars civil and domestic congregate to support one-another.
Date January 23, 2020

"I've seen… a lot of things, over the years," Carver rasps, his posture ramrod straight in the sturdy metal chair he's sitting in; the words come slowly, as though he's having to overcome heavy internal resistance to force them out. "But out of all of it… for me it's November 8, 2011 that takes the cake."

"Maybe that's cheating — I was technically out of the Army by then, working as an actual honest-to-God civilian doctor in an actual honest-to-God established hospital — but there's a difference between being in a warzone and seeing that many casualties, and seeing it happen at home. That was supposed to be the whole reason for the Army — to keep shit like that from happening."

Carver's default scowl twists into something more tightly wound still. "It wasn't until that evening that I saw the footage from Cambridge. That's the thing that sticks with me to this day. Cambridge."

"We'd had a tidal wave of casualties — burn victims, blunt trauma, you name it. I was up to my eyeballs at the time. Then I finally get a chance to catch my breath, and I see news reports showing soldiers — U.S. Army soldiers — firing on civilians, on kids, on American soil! I felt like my guts had been blown out."

"I'd spent just about my entire adult life, since I was old enough to drink, stomping around in shitholes across the world, putting bullets in people for the express purpose of preventing shit like this from happening… only to witness it happening here, in America, and the organization I'd served was the one doing it."

Church of the Ascension, Basement
Elmhurst, NYC Safe Zone
January 23rd
7:12 pm

Harrison Carver isn’t recounting his tale to an empty room. Close to a dozen faces sit in a circle under the glow of hanging fluorescent lights, surrounded by damp brick walls and a storage rack filled with more folding chairs than this room could ever accommodate. A folding table by the door is stocked with paper cups and a mostly empty pot of strong, black coffee and a mostly-empty box of donuts from Rings of Juniper.

“Cambridge was hard,” is the echo of agreement and sympathy from this group’s facilitator. She’s young enough to be Carver’s granddaughter, though the only relationship they share is one forged in the fires of civil war. They may never have fought on the same battlefields, but they did fight in the same war. Colette Demsky sits forward, hands folded between her knees, hair tied back into a loose ponytail. She angles a blind-eyed look up to Carver, nodding as she does, then looks around the room.

“Who else has strong memories about Cambridge, and would like to share?” Colette asks, thinking the topic one worthy of discussion. Too many people she knew and cared about died in that massacre. Too many more still living with unresolved trauma from that day.

At Carver's side, seated mostly behind him with the clear intention of being apart from the talking circle, Kara Prince sits quietly. There's a pensive silence to her, at once related and separate from the topic of discussion. The date of the Cambridge massacre is one surreal for her, but it's not one where she was keyed in to that particular event— to have that very precise sense of where were you when the news broke. But here she sits, trying to recall specifics anyway.

It was a diner, somewhere. Washington, certainly. A tiny screen. She's not sure of the date she'd learned it'd happened, if it was the same one or the day after. The paper is old, and she'd just gotten through her first quiet round of what the fuck over seeing a goddamned President Petrelli invoked on its front page. Immediately bewildered, she'd looked up to see the unbelievable ticker on CNN.

It'd all felt like a bad dream. she wants to say, but doesn't. She rubs a hand over her mouth to keep the words to herself, leaning back with a creak coming from the metal folding chair she's seated on.

At that moment, Kara Prince could be any other tight-lipped veteran. She glances over Carver's shoulder at Colette and continues to say nothing.

Lucille is late.

Her footfalls barely sound as she walks. She's walked in late the last three times she's come to a meeting. Pulling the dark sunglasses off, her eyes are on Colette and eyebrows raise as she strides forward to find a chair that isn't far from her friend. The apologetic look in her eyes being strongly conveyed now. It's been a wild last few months for the Wolfhound Operative and though she frequented this meeting Colette knew that her best friend much rather throw herself in somewhere like the Crucible or the gym than outright spill her feelings on the war that molded her.

In all of her seeking a seat and getting settled she completely missed Kara, that changes the moment that Lucille finally looks up and around the room taking in the faces of people that are familiar.

Light blue eyes don't widen instead she just crosses her ankles and leans back into the uncomfortable, rigid chair. Gaze sliding away from Kara's general direction to the man that was speaking, Carver.

Let’s call Lucille fashionably late. Nicole is outright so. She tries her best to open the door without a sound, but between the audible click of the handle and the creak of hinges, it becomes quickly very apparent that there’s another latecomer.

The dark-haired woman has the grace to look sheepishly toward the meeting’s facilitator as she slides the door shut behind her as quietly as she can manage. She does not bee line for a seat, however, because that pot of coffee is only mostly empty and not entirely. Once she’s gotten her half cup out of the pot, she meanders slowly toward the ring of chairs, but doesn’t take a seat immediately.

Instead, Nicole’s luminescent blue eyes fall on Colette, wordlessly waiting for permission to join the group. Probably she should have sought that before she went and took the last of the coffee, but it’s been one of those days. One of those decades, and they’re only in the first month of it. She’s never attended one of these gatherings before, despite insistence from those closest to her, maybe it’s finally time to start.

Carver lets out a slow breath once Colette steps into the discussion. He's said his piece; he's said more, in fact, that he almost ever does. Now it's someone else's turn. His eyes flicker to the new arrivals, his usual squint narrowing a bit as he sizes them up.

Colette offers a wordless nod to Nicole, though there's a brief look of pleased surprise in seeing her sister come to the meeting again. “Okay,” is the way Colette acknowledges everyone’s silence. “Well, when the Cambridge stuff happened, I was in Alaska.” She breezes past that point. “I first found out about it when I woke up days later in Bannerman’s Castle. Some of you who've been here have heard me talk about that before,” and anyone who's watched the news in the last decade knows the infamous name.

“I had a doctor tending to me,” Colette explains, “a nurse. A great woman, saved my life.” Though she doesn't call out Megan Young by name, documentaries about the siege have in the past. “She was the first person t’tell me about the… about how everyone died there. I was in so much shock, you know? I'd already been through hell, I'd lost my father, and people I cared about— they were there. Not all of them made it back.”

Swallowing tensely, Colette takes in a sharp breath through her nose and wipes her thumb across one of her eyes. “I um, I remember feeling really helpless. Guilty, too, y’know? Because I've got all this— I have an ability, right? But it doesn't matter. It felt like it didn't. So I just felt helpless, I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even cry. Didn't for almost a week.”

Colette looks over at Carver and gives him an affirming nod. “My CO, when I was in Wolfhound, he was there that day. What really helped me start to… to process that loss— it was talking to him. He didn’t want to— couldn't— process the pain. But I think he knew it was helping me to just be there and nod and not make me feel like I was alone. That's why we’re all here, right?” Colette looks around the room. “To not feel like we’re alone.”

Sitting forward, Colette folds her hands between her knees and offers a smile across the floor to Lucille and Nicole. “Since we have some newcomers here, and it looks like a few stragglers, why don't we go around and do introductions. You can give us your name,” Colette says, “tell us a little about where you served, and anything else you might want t’say.” In the interim, she unbuttons and rolls up her sleeves just past her elbows, revealing tattoos of birds in flight over a forest on one arm and the Manhattan skyline on the other with some script writing that's illegible at a distance.

“Why don't you start us off?” Colette says to Kara, then motions in a circle around the room from Kara all the way to herself.

It takes a moment for Kara to move out of her position, hand lowering from her face to tuck into a tight fold in front of her. She looks up to Colette, trying to avoid Lucille’s gaze. Nicole’s late appearance she has no problem visually addressing, sizing her up at a glance before returning her attention back to the leader of the circle they have going. Her jaw rolls slowly as she debates something in silence.

“My name’s Kara,” she shares gruffly. “I served in Afghanistan. Marines. After I came home, I ended up on the West Coast. After November 8th…” It takes her a moment to work out what she wants to say, but she quietly proceeds with, “Nothing made any sense any more. So I did what I felt I had to do. What felt right.” She looks across the room, nodding slowly. “I helped who I could. Intervened where I could. I heard about the Ferry, and then I wasn’t alone anymore— I was running people across the border as a coyote. Then the war got worse and…”

Her head tips slightly to one side. “I was still out west when the bombings started. When the bomb went off, for that matter.” Sitting upright, she goes on, “Sitting around and talking about what happened was never something I expected. I’m more of a … doer.” Her tongue smirches off the back of her teeth. “But it’s exhausting to be your own island. I guess I hoped I’d find something that made me feel less like that, here.”

Looking to the person on her right, she supposes, “We’ll see.”

The older redhead with the startling white streak running through her hair sitting in the circle has remained quiet, though Colette's story makes her look down. Megan doesn't like to remember that day. It is a day of helplessness, of rage, of horror. And she wasn't in either place — Alaska or Cambridge. She was caring for people — mostly children — who fled ahead of the worst of it. The days of the war were filled with a mixture of vicious fights with a few good people around her and saving as many as she could with what little medical supplies they could scrounge. She looks down into her coffee cup, mostly empty as she sits with one leg crossed over the other. Her blue eyes fall on Nicole and Lucille as they arrive and her lips quirk just a hint. She understands what Kara's saying… but she's been hellaciously lucky in her companions. And in her support network. Still…

"My name is Megan." The former Air Force nurse is too well known to anyone who paid any attention to have to really talk about where she was. "When we all started doing what we were doing in the Ferry… it was … we thought it would eventually get better. Most, although not all of us, were former military. None of us really expected it would come to the day we'd actually have to protect this country against itself." She's quiet for a moment. "Something broke in me that day. Something I know I won't ever get back. The betrayal of watching men and women who took the same oath I did firing on unarmed children on home ground… there is no coming back from that. No … trust that it can't happen again.

"I find myself still stockpiling medical supplies and my go-bag is still packed." The admission is quiet. "I watch the horizon, waiting for the next thing and I find it really hard to … live here and accept that it won't happen again. I built a life here in the Zone helping people who are still too afraid to actually go to a hospital for fear they'll be tracked and bagged even though this government is exactly what we fought for. It's what so many of us died for." She chuffs out a sound that's not quite amusement. "I feel sometimes like one of those preppers we all used to laugh at when I was younger. I notice that a lot of the people I know… have some of the same feelings. We just build lives in spite of it and… just watch. Hoping the day never comes again, but unable to stop being watchful." She trails off, and then shrugs. "I come here to be among the people who understand how deeply that betrayal cut."

Kara's tale makes Lucille briefly glance at the woman and then nod, she can relate and in that moment the Wolfhound operative.

"I carried her out of Alaska, with her sister," Lucille starts and looks towards Colette then Nicole and Megan. "It was my first real taste of combat, my father wasn't pleased. I was used to running, that was how I got by. Whenever things got tough but I had enough, I was tired of being chased," she doesn't smile at the thought, nobody wanted to think about that time. "My name is Lucille Ryans and my father worked for the Company… and because of that I felt like I had a debt to repay for his disservice to the Evolved community since they had a huge hand in starting all of this shit," to her and her siblings, "After Alaska and Colette's all but ignoring me," There's a bit of a weak smile and teasing look sent her best friends way.

"We ran into each other again. The war had started, we were both so different even then we had grown, I had lost control of my ability totally but she wasn't afraid and that's when we bonded I think and I told her that I was there in Alaska, that I carried you-" Lucille stops and swallows back a sob those her eyes water and her knees shake. She remembers that bone tight grip, "And I had something to prove, I could measure up to the family name. I was ready," Slowly the short haired woman shakes her head, "I wasn't though. I wasn't prepared for Utah," for how many they lost for the trek back home. The emotional scars still felt fresh and barely scabbed over. "The screams I can hear still, in my dreams or if my mind wanders too far. Being active helps, fighting still helps." Bowing her head to not have to look at the people she knows, they might surely already know this truth but outright saying it feels wrong. A disservice to the peace they worked so hard to achieve.

"Wolfhound keeps everything steady, other fights," She's not gonna put Nicole in a weird position here and Lucille just grimaces. "My meditation does too, my large family, my chosen family," The ones she held so dear to her, "But I'm always curbing the urge to run by fighting."

Lucille’s introduction is met with a sympathetic smile. “I’m Nicole,” the next speaker begins. “I was in Alaska fighting that day. I was about… six months pregnant. I tried to tell myself I didn’t care. Or that it didn’t matter. If I couldn’t help the people closest to me,” she pointedly does not glance up at Colette when she says this, lest she fall apart, “I wasn’t going to be any help to that baby.”

Nicole lets out a deep breath, hoping to steady her nerves as she wraps both hands around her cup of coffee. “I was present at the siege of Pollepel Island. When the government came to wipe us out. Every last person. Adults, children, the fighters, the sickly…” Her throat is tight as she brings up her coffee for a swallow.

“I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to fight my way out and escape. We got to Canada. I had my baby. And then I left her behind to go join the war.” Restless fingers tap gently on the cup’s surface. “I missed the first three years of her life. Sometimes, I thought it would be alright if I died fighting. Other times, knowing I had to get back to her was what kept me going.”

Nicole’s eyes go glassy as she takes a moment to just breathe and keep her composure. “Everyone in my unit except my commander and I died on a mission. And I keep wondering… I lay awake at night wondering if there had been any other way. If there was something I could have done differently that would have saved their lives. After I recovered, I left the front lines to help build our strategies instead.”

She smiles wryly. “I suppose I was good at it. We won the war. But not without so much cost.” Finally, Nicole lifts her gaze to look at her little sister. “I wonder, sometimes, if I did enough.”

Carver listens silently — first as Colette speaks, then, once she's primed the pump, as the others speak up, one by one, relating their stories; in all of them, he finds bits he can relate to.

Colette's talk about helplessness and guilt… he knows those feelings. More than that, though, he knows what it's like to hold the pain in, to refuse to let it go — like that CO she’d mentioned. There's a nagging feeling at the back of his mind that once you reach a certain point in life, some things maybe you shouldn't move on from… but even so, her CO had been there when she'd needed to talk. When she nods to him, Carver offers a small nod back.

Kara talking about how the world hadn't made sense anymore… well, he knows that feeling too. He also knows about doing what he had to do, too… though his story maybe isn't as positive as the others being told here. No, that's one thing he'll keep to himself.

The nurse, Megan… of all of them, she hits on it most closely. The way he'd felt when he'd seen the footage. The feeling of betrayal. The way trust was shattered beyond repair. Carver's scowl twists as though he'd bitten into something bitter, his lips tightening into a bloodless grimace; he nods once to her, deeply.

Lucille's talk… if anything, it reminds him of himself as a younger man. The feeling of having something to prove, fighting and running and running by fighting. Maybe not just as a young man, either; after all, he's still lurking out in the sticks, isn't he?

Nicole's words serve to underscore an uncomfortable feeling that's been growing in him ever since this meeting started, a question that somehow he's never found himself asking until now; for the first time in a very long time, Harrison Carver finds himself wondering if he couldn't be doing something more, old man or not.

But that's a thought he'll have to pursue later — or, failing that, dig a hole, bury it, and drink beer until it stops yowling. For now, the circle has closed and the torch has come back around to him. He takes a drink of his coffee to wet his throat, squares his shoulders, and speaks. "Carver. Harrison Carver. Medical sergeant. First served in Vietnam, last at Fort Bragg, pretty much everywhere else in the middle," he rasps.

He hesitates a moment; to his surprise, he finds that he actually wouldn't mind continuing to talk a bit more to these people… but the words don't seem to want to come, so he takes another drink of his cooling cup of coffee instead. It tastes strong enough to dissolve nails; makes Carver nostalgic. Civilians tend to be under the unfortunate impression that coffee's natural state is a liquid, but this just isn't so. Any soldier knows that it's not really coffee unless it's strong enough to stand on its own and salute you. Good coffee should be able to rouse the dead to march again, and also dissolve nails.

“Ain’t often we get so many people sharing,” Colette says, not remarking on how many familiar faces there are. She sits forward again, folding her hands between her knees and hunching her shoulders. “A lot of folks who go through what we have, we make attachments t’things that’re familiar to us. Maybe we picked up the bottle when we were fighting, maybe we picked up a gun, maybe we put aside our own best interests t’get that high from helpin’ people…” She inclines her head to the side, smiling awkwardly. “Thing is, those kind’ve attachments can only get us so far. They can’t help us cope in the real world. It just acts like a surrogate for natural routine.”

Unfolding her hands, Colette rubs her palms together and sits up straight. “I served in Wolfhound during the war, and for several years after too. For me, Wolfhound was both an addiction and a tether to a routine that made sense t’me. I was real angry after the war; angry at myself, angry at the world, angry at everything. I latched on to the high that being a soldier gave me, the sense of purpose. When the war ended, I didn’t know how to reintegrate. So, I didn’t. I stuck with the only thing I knew. I’ve been fighting since I learned I was Expressive when I was seventeen. I’m almost thirty now.” Colette admits, looking down to the floor and shuffling her feet. “I left Wolfhound last year to try and find something new for myself, I joined the NYPD to honor my father Judah,” and as she says that she turns her right arm over to show a tattoo of the New York City skyline and below the skyline is a line of text that reads, 103008 whatever happens is from now on.

“Finding a way to move on from conflict, from a warzone, is how we start to heal,” Colette explains, lacing her hands together again. “Mr. Pines talked about that a lot, how people need to have a way to focus themselves away from what’s self-destructive, or what’s just plain destructive.” Rubbing her hands together again, she looks around the room. “Would anyone like to share about something they do to help center themselves? To stay grounded?”

To some extent, the stories of others roll off of Kara like rain on steel. They plink against her being, resounding only for a moment before slipping down off her surface and away. It's a heavy rain, but she sits impassive through it all.

Like Carver, she lets it ultimately all run off of her. Like Lucille runs by fighting, she runs by refusing to let anyone in. Like Megan, she looks to the horizon, building a life in spite of it but never settling into it. Like Nicole, she sits half-dreaming some nights, wondering if there was anything else that could have been done, and ponders the answerless question of if she had done enough.

Unlike Colette, Kara has not moved on. She has not accepted the past as over. In some ways, to let go of it would be to let go of the last of who she was. But now, with things in Providence the way they are, her sense of purpose in the present is shaken.

And she can't decide if sticking to what she knows will be the thing that saves her or damns her, going forward.

Unwillingness to face that brings Kara to speak when she hadn't expected to. "If I find myself losing… track," she voices slowly, looking at no one. "I ground myself by finding something that only came after. I use it to remind myself when, where I am." There's a grating weight to the admission, the fold of her arms tightening still. "It doesn't always work. But most times, it does. It can be a thing, it can be a person."

Her voice quiets. "It's easier when it's a person."

Thoughtfully, Megan sips at the coffee. Kara's comment makes her smile just a little. "People help more than anything else, honestly," she agrees. "For me… Sitting with friends who've walked through fire with me helps. Not because we talk about the fighting or anything. We usually wind up talking about those weird moments of fun and laughter in the middle of the mess. The stupid shit."

Like Huruma rolling out of a hammock and nearly landing on Meg's head. Which the other woman always says was on purpose. It probably was. The huff of a laugh is quiet. "Reminds me that I wasn't isolated then, I'm not isolated now. All I have to do is reach out and they're there. Some nights I stay with a friend and can't sleep. I lay awake on his chest and listen to his heartbeat. Those nights I can listen to that sound, steady and regular, for hours."

But she pulls in a breath and also offers, "I found it helpful to go back to somewhere that I thought of as normal. Working the ER — with actual instruments and lights, where doctors do surgery and I don't." She glances at Colette and Nicole when she says that. Megan has done a lot of battlefield surgeries at this point. Things she never should have been tasked to do, and under normal circumstances would never have really dealt with.

"My full time military service ended after Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I was just Reserves after that. Reactivated for a time after the Midtown bomb. But I've been in this city since the late '90s. Working in the ER has been my constant. The need never changes — people get hurt, they need help. Inside the hospital walls, I don't… have to take the life or death responsibility of those injuries, though." Not like she did in the field during the Second Civil War. She blows out a breath, looking down on what's almost a laugh. "Going back to ripping baby doctors new asses for being stupid is a comfort all its own."

Colette's reasons for leaving Wolfhound are the same reasons that Lucille hasn't and being reminded of that so honestly as her best friend continues to share makes the taller woman uncomfortable enough to change her posture a bit, lacing her fingers together in her lap. Maybe she appears less the wild fighter she's admitted to being.

A soft snort at Meg's swears before she ponder herself, what brings her back when she's on the brink.

"Meditation is a gift,"

As simple as that, the woman wants to do it right after this meeting. Divulging all of this, the inner workings of her trauma and experience especially with family like Colette, Nicole and Meg and even more so being so vulnerable around Kara. "If you can quiet everything around you, just feel your breath. You find yourself faster than you were lost."

Nicole snorts quietly, covers it up by scrubbing the back of her hand under her nose. She refrains from shooting her sister a look and asking didn’t you just turn fifteen? Does not refrain from murmuring an opinion on Kara’s saving grace. “Helps you’ve got a good person.”

But it’s her turn to speak, and Nicole finds herself uncertain of how to answer. What does keep her centered?

So, she answers honestly. “I don’t really have a center right now,” she admits with a rueful smile. “My life is a… freaking mess.” Nicole presses her lips together, letting them go thin and bloodless as she does her best to keep her emotions at bay. With her fingers still wrapped around her cup of coffee, she pushes her thumb under the strap of the sling that holds her arm to her body, adjusting its position slightly.

“I really don’t know.” Nicole sighs, lowering her cup to rest against her knee and her gaze along with it. “Pass, I guess.”

Carver is still and silent as he considers that. "I work," he rasps at last. "Used to be, I… tended some folks over at a little hole in the wall in the called Whitesbog," he says, looking down to his coffee for a moment. Kara knows how that one turned out.

"That's… dried up a bit. I've relocated; living in a place called Providence, these days. Providence has already got a doctor, though, so… mostly I've been working on getting my new house fixed up," he says, nodding stiffly. It's a poor answer, and saying it aloud makes him realize just how poor it is… but it's the only one he's got.

Colette’s stare lingers on Nicole a touch longer than it had the others, though she tries not to belie any familial connection through the look so as to not isolate the others she doesn’t know as well. “Sometimes…” she starts to say without quite yet having formed a plan for where the sentence is going. It leaves a hesitation and a silence that is filled by the buzz of the fluorescent lights overhead. “Sometimes labor is a good anchor,” she admits with a nod over to Carver. “Other times it’s family,” comes with a brief leveling of blind eyes on Nicole, “finding ourselves grounded in the need to take care of someone else who can’t take care of themselves.” Like a daughter.

“But what’s most important,” Colette continues, lacing her hands together as she sits forward, elbows on her knees, “is that we remember to take care of ourselves. No matter how dependent other people might be on us, or — fuck — because of how much people depend on us, we can’t let ourselves fall apart. Treat yourself like you would your sidearm,” she says with a flash of a smile. “You need to be well-oiled, well-cleaned, and ready. But not necessarily for the war, but ready for life. Y’can only get that way by making sure t’take care of yourself.”

Sitting back, Colette squares her shoulders and smooths her palms over her knees. “I wanna wrap up tonight by going around the room and saying something you’re happy for.” She smiles, awkwardly. “I know it’s goofy, but— reminding yourself why you fought, what you have no matter how small it is, that helps give you perspective.” Her brows pinch together and she levels a brief look back at Nicole before looking around at everyone else in the circle.

“Me, I’m thankful for my family. I’ve got two partners I love t’the end of the world, I’ve got a sister who means the world t’me, and a niece I can’t wait t’corrupt into an incorrigible punk.” The last part is said with a breathy laugh. “What about you,” she says with an unseeing look to Kara. “Whatever you share here stays here with us. What’re you happy for?”

It takes Kara a moment to acknowledge the conversational ball has been passed to her, still as quiet in spirit as she had been when her voice last tapered off. She might as well be blind to Colette's grin for all that she doesn't react to it. What is she thankful for? What is she happy for?

Her hand flexes in the fold of her arms before her fingers curl closed again. She thinks of the house she and Yi-Min had chosen to renovate, about what it had signified— or rather, what it would have signified for their future together.

The silence is dealt away with with a quiet "Pass."

Any other answer is one she'll need to meditate on.

Toying with her now-empty cup, Megan is quiet for a few moments, needing to think how to phrase her answer to that question. "I'm thankful that I have the chance to actually grow old with people I care about," she finally replies. "I swore my oath and I feel like I've lived up to it. Lost a lot of people along the way, like everyone. But the ones who are still here, I'm thankful for the fact that we all made it." She smiles slightly at Lucille. "I don't think I'd ever classify my life as a 'normal' one, but it's a good one."

"As her big sister I object to any corruption," Clearly a light hearted joke to Colette. Bringing Pippa up makes her smile, she gives Nicole a passing glance with a sip of her head. She knew Colette and Lucille were there for her. "A baby sister, she's… a new start for my family. In a lot of ways, reconnecting with my other siblings. We're so scattered, my dad." Talking about her family makes her open up more, heart swelling with emotion, the family was so big.

"Trying to not pull away from my family, be there for birthdays. Anniversaries, the luxury that-" She stops herself from saying a luxury that many of my comrades don't have now. Looking over towards Megan with a weak smile, the woman and she had been in the trenches together. She was so determined to be of use.

"I honor my comrades by living and being present. That's what makes me happy." Before falling silent with her jaw set, chewing the inside of her cheek.

Nicole rubs her forehead at the mention of corrupting her child. “Ugh,” she half whispers, half moans, “she’s gonna be gay and do crimes.”

Which would make her proud, let’s be completely clear here.

It’s her turn to speak now, so she lifts her head again and manages a little smile. “Of course my daughter makes me happy.” Even if she hasn’t had her in her home for months now. “My big, fat extended family.” She flashes a glance to Lucille at that. You’re seen. “My work.”

Her gaze drifts to Colette. “My sister. Even when she takes days to call me back.”

Silence falls for a long moment before Carver realizes that it is now his turn to talk about… what makes him happy? What does make him happy? What, exactly, does he have to be happy about?

He thinks on it, his customary scowl deepening. Family? Dead, hates his guts, or both; there aren't any little Carvers out there for him to dandle on his knee, or if there are, they're better off without the likes of him in their life. His work? Most of that's behind him, and for all that he did, all the blood he spilled, things still ended up like this. The future? That's a joke. Carver is still in good shape, but old age is a foe that very few men ever beat, and it gains a little ground on him with every passing year.

He chews on the question for a moment longer, then squares his shoulders and speaks.

"A house that's mine. A chair by the fire. Beer in the icebox, and a long driveway," he rasps slowly. And guns onhand in case anyone tries to take that from me, ever again. His gaze travels around the circle, studying the others' reactions, before he resumes staring into his cup of coffee.

“That’s what we fought for,” Colette affirms as she sits up straight, hands on her knees. “That’s what Martin would say when he was here. That’s what kept me coming back. For all the things in this world that could be better, that aren’t right, for all the injustice that’s still around… we made a difference, each and every one’f us, and we still do.”

There’s a finality to Colette’s statement. She presses her hands on her knees and is the first to stand, tucking her hands into the pocket of her jeans as she does. “I really appreciate you all comin’ around. I know things ain’t always easy,” she briefly looks to Nicole, then back around the room, “but the more we normalize talkin’ through our lives, the more we can be there for one-another. We didn’t fight and win on the field alone…”

“…and we can’t at home, either.”

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