STF

Midday Confessions - A Lifetime of Memories

Posted Nov. 19, 2020, 9:19 p.m. by Lieutenant Junior Grade Shaun Grecken (Doctor) (Steven Sigle)

Posted by Lieutenant Kate O’Neill (Chief of Security) in Midday Confessions - A Lifetime of Memories

Posted by Lieutenant Junior Grade Shaun Grecken (Doctor) in Midday Confessions - A Lifetime of Memories

Posted by Lieutenant Kate O’Neill (Chief of Security) in Midday Confessions - A Lifetime of Memories
Snip

Kate nodded indicating she heard Mathilda before following Shaun out of the house. While the car seemed to have the bottom of an off roading vehicle, the top half had the appeal of an ancient convertible muscle car. “Can we take this when we go Banshee hunting,” Kate asked Shaun with a smile. “Its like a stylish but functional Ecto one.”

Kate O’Neill

“I don’t see why not, if Uncle Jeremy did it correctly this thing should be able to climb up a mountain no problem so I would think so… you ready to go up the top?” Shaun said as the pair went out as Jeremy could be seen getting out of the car, a beastly combination of parts and grit as the man seemed to to wait for the praise he was clearly expecting from everyone before he had eyes on Kate.

“I,” Kate began her reply but never finishing it. Her mouth hung open slightly seeing the young man coming out from behind Jeremy. It had to be Liam. The family resemblance was uncanny. Both Liam and Shaun had the thick, ever tousled brown locks and blue eyes although Liam’s were not the piercing blue like Shaun’s. Kate blushed slightly catching Shaun’s gaze out of the corner of her eye. It was not that she oogling Liam but more embarrassed how mentally, Kate realized how much cuter Shaun was than the cousin he often talked about back in the States.

“You must but Katie! Shaun speaks of you all the time.” Jeremy said as he came and wrapped his arms around her as he squeezed her in a bear like hug.

Kate accepted the hug. It broke the need for her to respond to the look Shaun was giving her as she saw Liam. “In the flesh. The girl, the mystery, the one that keeps Shaun out of trouble,” she giggled in the embrace.

“So… what do you think?” he asked Katie as he clearly was very proud. “Does it speak of the brilliance of us?” he asked as he put his arm around Shaun, as he squeezed him tightly.

Grecken, Doctor

“It speaks of,” Kate began but instantly was cut off from finishing her remark.

“Shaun,” a voice called out happily turning the groups attention from the vehicle to the pretty brunette about thier age coming down the driveway.

Kate’s eyes widened slightly as she saw Shaun embrace the girl in a warm hug. He seemed oddly happy to see her which was even odder because the only person Shaun ever said lived next to his Aunt Mathilda and Uncle James was some kid named Dillon. Kate stood awkwardly as Shaun began to trade laughs and small talk with the girl. Eavesdropping on thier conversation Kate began to slowly piece together the mystery. This was not some generic girl who vaguely knew Shaun. This was Dillon the person Shaun chattered on about all the time. The Dillon that dropped by on lazy Sunday afternoons to hang out when Shaun was tinkering with an engine. This was Dillon who could hock a loogie farther than anyone Shaun had ever known. This was Dillon that loved to play Call to the Federation for hours at a time. This was Dillon only Dillon was not just one of the guys as Shaun described them recanting stories about thier adventures. This was Dillon, a girl not much older than Kate and very much a girl like Kate.

“Dillon?” Shaun said, he hadn’t been expecting to see her at this time of the year. The last she had spoken she was heading to Edinburgh in Scotland to visit her older sister in college. “Why aren’t you visiting Blair at the University of Edinburgh? You told me you were all excited to get to go see her this summer.” Shaun asked, glad to see his summertime friend who lived next to James. The twins loved him, but they were not near his age. Uncle Jeremy brought Liam, Anges, Blythe, and Harris by often and there was times Shaun stayed over there and found plenty of people to hang out with, but with Uncle James it had always just been Dillon to pry his attention away.

“When I heard you were coming back I had her change my plans.” The embrace was just long enough to show caring but not long enough to indicate affection or was it? Kate let her mind wander to all the times she and Shaun had been separated. Was there ever a hug? Probably yet it was lackluster enough not to be readily available to her memory. Kate’s eyes drifted to his hands holding Dillon’s as she backed away. Casual observance not clouded by the crazy machinations of a teen girls mind would note Dillon had both instigated the hug and held on as she stepped away; however, the plight of all teens and pre-teens was being too dumb to separate fact from highly imaginative minds. “I figured I could go next month after you leave to go back. It’s just so good to have you back home.”

Home. This place is not home chica. Home is in the hills of the Appalachians and not some tree barren, rock-strewn hunk of dirt floating in the Atlantic. The idea that Ireland could ever be Shaun’s true home had Kate seeing green. Who are you slobbin’ up on Shaun? If I ain’t heard of you, you probably don’t really exist so take a step back and check yourself with a normal hello.

“Iontach iontach” Shaun said as he took a deep breath.

Dillon was wonderful, he never had a bad time with her. Kate was more wonderful though, and had been his best friend since he was seven. He also knew Kate was not keen on girls… any girls. Didn’t matter if they wanted to be his friend, her friend, or one of her brothers friends. About the only girls she ever got along with was his sisters and even they at times clashed with the very tomboy nature Kate had. Dillon though was in some ways the opposite of Kate, she was frilly and loved dresses.

Last time Kate had been in a dress to Shaun’s knowledge was when she was 9 and forced to be baptized in the river by their church. Immediately after she ripped off her dress to, which left her with nothing but panties and a white t-shirt and went to the buffet table to get food before anyone came near it, choosing of course to only eat food their two families had made as she refused to touch outside food, despite having grown up with the church members all her life.

“You are,” Kate muttered hearing I am too in Shaun’s gaelic response instead of wonderful. “Well isn’t that nice.”

“It is great isn’t it,” Dillon let out a long sigh. Shaun had definitely changed since the last time she had seen him. He seemed a bit more filled out as her mom would say and his hair cut definitely looked good on him. It was still the tousled look yet now it sported styling products because he wanted the tousled look. There was a distinction and Dillon did notice.

“Gosh you have gotten tall. Last time you were here we were eye to eye. Now I have to look up to see you,” Dillon tilted her head back for effect looking at Shaun.

“I… guess…” Shaun said with an arched expression, feeling a bit perturbed by the statement. It wasn’t one he had ever heard someone his own age tell him. As Dillon was only one year younger it made it even more bizarre to him.

“Thank you.” he decided to finally settle on, not sure if there was something else he should say to such a statement.

Who besides an adult ever talks about how tall you have gotten, Kate wrinkled up her nose in disgust. Enough was enough. It was time to break up this weird neighborly greeting.

The time Dillon and Shaun had spent in greeting each other was in reality short; however, in a teen girls mind, they had not only said hello but met, gotten married and had a few kids. “Hello,” Kate moved away from Jeremy and to Shaun’s side. “I’m Kate and you are,” she asked a rhetorical question because she already knew the answer.

This was just some chick that thought Shaun was cute. It was not unsurprising. At school, girls were always giggling and staring at him when he walked down the halls or was goofing off in class. Kate would say hello, be polite, and then they would move along with the day’s plans.

Kate O’Neill

“Hi… I’m Dillon McKinney, I live next door.” Dillon said quietly as she pointed to the house. The area they lived was rural but there was at least six homes within viewing distance from James home. Everyone was either elderly or married without kids. The McKinney and May homes were the only exceptions.

“You’re Dillon? His friend that lives in the next house over from Uncle James.” Recognition swept over Kate’s face drawing the corners of her smile into a tight line. Slowly she turned her forced smile to look at Shaun. Her tummy began to flip flop like they were about to plunge downhill on a roller coaster as a face was placed with a well-known name.

“Yes,” she shook her head in acknowledgment. Soft reddish, brown curls bobbed slightly with the movement. “I have known Shaun for years. Good to meet you.”

Shaun eyed Kate as he shook his head. Mentally he couldn’t help but say settle as if he they were telepaths that could read each others thoughts. In reality, she most likely could from the expression he had given her, but he suspected… or should he admit knew, that she was not going to take the subtle suggestion he was trying to convey.

Kate did not miss the side glance and subtle hand motion which translated meant don’t get your dander up. He used this patting the air motion to keep the lacrosse team from making mistakes in a game when they became too amped up. It was also used to signal Kate and the crowd to settle down when their cheering during a game was more distracting than inspiring. Kate knew what he mean yet chose to not help out Team Shaun in this moment. It was Team Shaun that brought in a bench warmer so he would have to live with bringing someone up from the Triple A to join his team.

“Nice to meet you too Dillllllloooooon,” Kate nodded returning the greeting slowly, “and no Kenny. Just Dillon. Dillon McKinney,” she repeated the name taking in the situation as she moved next to Shaun. At twelve, Kate was not sure exactly how this worked. Was it better to be next to him or in front of him? Next to him meant you could grab him if you needed to or shove him with more likely success to knock him off balance. Shaun’s current growth spurt was making it more difficult to physically compete with him. Standing in front of him meant his eyes were on your and Kate could see when Shaun actively looked at the girl because he would have to turn his head.

“Shaun you never told me Dillon was so,” Kate let her words trail before settling on, “friendly.” You never told me she was a girl either but we can talk about that later she said the second sentence to herself.

“Is there a problem,” Dillon asked now confused herself.

“Kate just doesn’t do well with surprises I think, I hadn’t told her you would be here… as I was unware. But as she has said, this is Kate O’Neill, my best friend and partner in crime back home.” Shaun said, he knew well enough to make certain Kate became elevated in that phrasing, he had to appease her ego, best it explode on them today.

“Shut up,” Kate took the opportunity to punch him in the shoulder again. “You know I love surprises. They all me Kate the girl that loves surprises and the unexpected back home. Why should that be any different here or be a problem?” She hoped the punch hurt. Internally, she couldn’t quite figure out why she was so hostile to Shaun. It was not like Shaun had told her he was going out and would be back later. Yes Dillon was unexpected but the use of surprise felt like it should be something positive and the girl with two caterpillars for eyebrows across from her was not exactly a positive development.

“And why would there be a problem with my two favorite girls hanging out?” Shaun said as he eyed Kate hoping she would play along, but knowing he was going to loose control. He always did when Kate was involved. She made his life a challenge some might say, but he preferred to call it an adventure.

Fisting Shaun’s shirt, Kate swung her leg behind his catching him at knee level. The force of the unexpected blow buckled him sending him backward into the dust and mud. Never letting go of his shirt, Kate used gravity to lean into his fall so that he not only went down but down with her over top of him. Years of karate, judo, and the like had made her far more nimble that anyone would have guessed looking at her size and weight. Two favorite girls. Two! Shaun you have some ‘splainin to do!

Blinking twice rapidly, she responded to Shaun’s statement. “No there is no problem,” Kate smiled wishing the scene of her taking Shaun out was real and not just a daydream. Leg sweeping him in front of everyone would have been drastic. It would also have been satisfying and given her an answer to why he now had two girls instead of just one.

Kate decided next to was the best position for now and playfully shoved his shoulder with more force than necessary. “I just can’t ever understand that weird accent of yours. I thought it was Dillon and Kenny like two pals roaming the countryside but its just you. Dillon McKinney,” she repeated the name.

“Íosa cabhrú liom.” he said as he shook his head. “You thought there was a Dillon and Kenny? That’s what yer sticking with lass?” he asked her with a smirk. He couldn’t help but find this cute in some ways, he hadn’t expected this outcome but he couldn’t deny Kate had her own charms he often found irresistible.

“Oh my god that is so funny,” Dillon let out a bubble of laughter.

“Hahahah yes it is,” Kate forced a highly fake laugh in a pitch higher than normal. “And nothing is sticking with me.” The daggers in eyes were getting more pronounced. Shaun needed to stop while he was ahead. Why was he poking the bear as her momma said? The fact that Kate had thought for years Dillon was a Dylan was not funny. The first second they had alone together, Kate was going to find out why Shaun found humor in this.

Dillon me-n-you are gonna mix. The saying was an old Southern one meaning Kate was ready to rumble however with a dollop of smiles it sounded so friendly. Kate might not have some weird foreign language like Shaun did in his family, but she had something almost better. Southern slang which could never accurately be translated by anyone that wasn’t from the south. Glancing over at Shaun, Kate patted his arm. “Ever notice at times he can be as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs.” Dillon would have no idea what Kate was saying but Shaun would have a very good idea of the real meaning behind her Southern slang.

“I guess,” Dillon laughed looking at Shaun even more confused as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.

Oh yeah, Kate is not sweet on Shaun at all, Mathilda laughed in her head. James and Jeremy had no idea what they were getting into taking the lot of teens out for the weekend but she was sure gonna love to hear the story about it later. “Okay time to get going,” Mathilda clapped her hands making a shooing motion towards the car. “It’s a long trip and I don’t trust you are gonna make it up there in that contraption there,” she wagged a dish rag at the car. “Dillon your mama sent your bag up this morning. I put it in the car already with Kate and Shaun’s stuff.”

“She’s coming Banshee hunting with us,” Kate locked eyes on Shaun. The fun and laid back vacation was suddenly turning into an Irish version of a nightmare. She would need some time to digest the news. “Why Bless my heart this is just gonna be the best trip ever.”

“Don’t look at me, I thought she was in Scotland. Otherwise, I would have told you to expect her.” Shaun said as he put his hands up, the universal signal of someone trying to not take the blame of a situation.

“Stop making this weird. Why would I care if you have your two favorite girls hanging out with you?” Throwing his line back illustrated what was getting her into a tizzy. “Heck I am probably sure there is a few more favorite girls around here somewhere. It will just be as much as a surprise meeting them as it was meeting Dillon here.”

“Exactly,” Dillon agreed. “It is going to just be another memory we are making this time as one big group instead of just him and I unless you would prefer we didn’t?” She never liked hearing about all the fun Shaun had with Kate in the states. No matter what happened, she was not going to miss a chance to get to know the girl Shaun never stopped rambling about.

“It would make no sense for me to pitching a hissy fit with a tail on it until the cows come home right. So we should get going. I mean if you if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch right and I for one love to run. Woof woof woof,” Kate let out a silly bark, smiled, and turned on her heel sharply toward the car. Snatching Liam with the crook of her arm, she pulled him with her. “Sit by me. You can show me the countryside while Dillon and Shaun catch up,” she said. “Shaun has talked all about the really cool things here and the history behind it.”

Dillon looked a bit confused as she glanced over at Shaun. “I only understood half of that myself… don’t worry she’s… protective of me. You’ll be fine.” he said as he patted Dillon on the back as he walked past her to see what he could do for James and Jeremy in getting ready.

“More like obsessed,” Dillon said in a low tone as Shaun walked away. Kate was definitely going to suck up any alone time with Shaun that Dillon was looking forward to. Comm calls were fine but 30 minutes a week did not really let you get to know everything that was going on with someone. Dillon loved the lazy chats by the fire or on the stone wall in town where when they were bored they would get ice cream. If Kate was acting like she and Shaun were a thing, maybe there was more to Shaun than Dillon had paid attention to. He was always super fun and quick to laugh at everything. Maybe as her mom had been teasing her a year changed a person and how they saw the world. She was definitely seeing Kate far differently than Shaun talked about.

This area had a quaint tiny village feel, enough people to not feel lonely but far enough away from the city you needed to plan to go there. No more than four hundred hundred people lived in Hogstits, but that never stopped them all going on adventures when they could. Jeremy and his family lived on the other side of the village, which in itself sounded like some far away trek, but it was no more than a half a km away from where they were now, with the tiny pubs and shops scattered in-between them.

Sliding into the car, Kate made sure that she was by the window and Liam next to her. If Shaun wanted to sit next ot Silly Dilly at least she wouldn’t have to see it.

“So Liam tell me about Killarney? Is that where they have the kissing stone?”

Kate future COS

“Uhhh… no. That’s Blarney Stone. Killarney is a village south of us.”

“Too bad,” Kate smiled and laughed out loud. “In the states we joke about kissing a frog to get a prince. I wasn’t sure what happened in Ireland when you kissed a rock but I was interested in finding out.” She wasn’t sure if this was how you actively flirted with a guy. She had over heard Shaun’s sisters for years and watched Fiona banter back and forth with her older brother Dave in such a manner. Even if she had no intention of trying to flirt with Liam it was good practice for when she would want to flirt with someone later. It was not like she could practice on Shaun.

“So if we aren’t going to see the Blarney stone where are we going?” Her interest was piqued far more now not knowing where they were going than it was trying to get Shaun to either eavesdrop on what she was saying or pay attention to her and Liam.

“Shaun said… well he said he wanted it to be a surprise for you. I shouldn’t say.” Liam said, Shaun had gotten everyone to be mum regarding the real reason he wanted to go to Kilarney. His father had a family home, a castle, down in the region. Something he had always enjoyed to visit as the Grecken brood all lived near it in the city.

“I can tell you this, you can meet his grandparents on his dad’s side, as well as some of his other Aunt’s and Uncles and a few of his cousins. Lot of Greckens live near Kilarney, where his moms family all lived up in Dublin where he grew up in till he moved to America. Honestly Dad and Aunt Mathilda where the only ones from that side to ever leave the city, they loved to tinker and the municipal didn’t appreciate things like this…” Liam said as he patted the side of the car.

Grecken, Doctor

“Okay everyone get in now, or we won’t have time to find the she devil.” Jeremy said as he got Shaun and Dillon to pull in as James moaned as he kisses his wife goodbye.

“She’s sitting next to the other window,” Kate said soft enough for the adults to hear but loud enough that Shaun wouldn’t miss it.

“If I don’t go he’ll blow them all up, someone has to keep that thing running.” James said to Mathilda’s objections as she seemed to stare even more terse at him as James made his way to the passenger seat on the left side of the car.

Grecken, Doctor

“What,” Liam looked at Kate processing what she said about the she-devil as doors closed and the vehicle began to move.

“What,” she instantly replied as she looked at Liam innocently. “Ever hear of a snipe,” Kate changed the topic abruptly. “It’s a sweet adorable critter that is found in wooded areas. I am sure Shaun said they have them here now that he knows where to look for them and if he didn’t he had better start playing along when the time comes. We catch them at night on camping trips. We let them go of course but they are so super soft and snuggly.

“Snipe? Not really…” Liam said, with an awkward feeling. He didn’t know Kate and he was surprised she hadn’t sat next to Shaun. In all the trips usually Shaun let Liam sit next to Dillon. He now was feeling a little grumpy that he instead had Shaun to his left and Dillon on the end away from being able to talk to her easily

“So is there a reason you still don’t have trees here,” Kate asked watching the rolling landscape bounce past them. She didn’t care about the response. What she did care about was devoting all her attention on Liam as he prattled on about ice ages, the industrial revolution, and deforestation. The longer Liam spoke, the less chance there was for Silly Dilly to add to the conversation. Talking over someone was rude so the only way to make sure no bonding or stories from the past came out from the other side of the car was to keep Liam talking.

Kate O’Neill

“I never really thought about it, I mean aren’t we known as the land of rolling hills? Though Kilanry has a big forest if you like trees… that’s where dad says the fairies and leprechauns live.” Liam answered, unsure what this girls obsessions was with their trees and snipes. “Would you like some galaxy truffles?” he said, hoping if he gave her something to chew on she might shut up so he can talk about something, anything else besides the things she was talking about.

“Ummmm no thank you. I am not super big on chocolate unless it is coating peanut butter but thank you so much.” Kate had no idea what a galaxy truffle was but she did know truffles equaled chocolate.

“You don’t like chocolate,” Dillon leaned forward. “Are you from Quonos or something? Give me some,” she leaned over Shaun eager for the chocolate candy. Taking a bite she groaned leaning back in the seat. “Oh my god this is sooooo good.” Lolling her head to the side she watched Liam popping his into his mouth.

“Oh you know I want some of those.” Shaun said as he grabbed a bunch from the bag as he offered Dillon some before tossing a few up front and James and Jeremy.

“Truffle me,” Dillon leaned back as far as possible with her mouth open facing Shaun. The first toss bounced off her tooth flying into the back of Jeremy’s head. The heat of the afternoon had softened the chocolate treat so that on impact it did not bounce off but partially run down his neck.

“Hey, I’m driving you runt… oh is that a Galaxy truffle!” Jeremy said as he reached down and grabbed one as they began to swirve on the road as James had to pull the wheel back to keep them on track.

“Last time,” Dillon giggled moving her shoulders so that Shaun had a better shot at her mouth. She braced herself as the car swerved throwing her legs over Shaun’s lap so that she could brace herself and be at a ninety-degree from him. Again the treat bounced off her face this time using Dillon’s chin to whack Jeremy in the side of the cheek.

“Bloody hell what are you all doin’ back there,” Jeremey grumbled however the kids knew this tone was not angry but just Uncle Jeremy. “We just finished the upholstery last week. Don’t leave smudges. Send me more just not like shrimp at a Japanese steak house.” Turning slightly he held open his mouth to give Shaun a target.

“Oh look what you did now Shauny boy… you can’t give Jeremy treats he acts younger than you lot when he gets sugar in him.” James said as he had Jeremy slap his hand away from the steering wheel as the two of them fought for control.

“I got this, Shaun and Liam helped build this themselves and you got in the nuts and bolts too, as much as you complain you know it works!” Jeremy said, getting tired of the whole theme that he was going to get them all killed.

“Yeah Mr. May! I did supervise too”

More like stupidvise, Kate thought trying to not be annoyed at Shaun tossed Dillon candy. She tried to remember that the reason Shaun wasn’t pelting her in the face with chocolate because he knew she did not eat chocolate.

”… you know Mr. Clakrson has this.” Dillon said with a smile as Jeremy looked back and smiled back at the young girl. “Thank you Dillon, at least some appreciates my brilliance…” Jeremy said before a piercing scream could be heard as the kids in the back shouted.

“Jeremy. Jeremy. Jeremy!” Kate’s yells became more shrill as she noticed something besides the candy the car was clamoring about. Reaching forward she frantically began to tap him on the shoulders as she yelled out his name.

“Look out!” came the scream as they all pointed as Jeremy just barley missed a deer that was going across the street as he turned sharply to the left only to find him hitting a sharp decline as they all began driving down a hill going past brush and trees no more than a mile from the castle as Jeremy desperatly began to hold onto the steering wheel trying to keep them on course. For some, this might have been an fun adventure but right now with brakes refusing to stop it was taking everything to just keep the course from hit a large rock or tree.

As they got near the end of the hill, the car skidded across a creek as it leaped in air before landing with a crunching crash as they came to a screeching halt just a few feet from the nearby cliff.

Grecken, Doctor

“Oh my god I think I just saw my life flash before my eyes. Screw the Banshee,” Kate laughed laying her head on the back of the front seat. “I am going to assume we are heeeeeeee…oh my god,” Kate went stiff as a board. Every muscle locked up as Kate held the door open with one hand and her foot dangled in the air. The car was in no immediate danger of actually falling over but they were close enough to the edge that one would have to hug the quaterpanels to get around it on her side safely. “Tell me this thing flies?” The nervous twitter in her voice was actually barely contained panic.

Lt. Kate O’Neill

COS

Everyone seemed to be counting their feet and toes as Dillon was quick to burst out of her side of the door, clearly on the firm side as she scrambled away. James and Jeremy were a bit sluggish but found themselves exiting with little issues as Liam and Shaun all got out, only for Shaun to noticed Kate staring at the edge frozen as he looked over at her. He had seen this before with her, fear of heights was about the only thing he knew could paralyze her, even if the car did seem to be on a firm landing with little chance of tipping over. He suspected Jeremy, James, Liam, and Shaun would all help push and steer it further away from the edge, but they needed to get all parties out safely.

“Katie bug…”

“Yepper,” Kate responded with almost a sing song quality to her voice. Any other time someone might think she was up to some sort of mischief; however, those that knew her knew she was teetering on the edge of panic. Kate wasn’t the typical girl that burst into tears when scared or nervous. She defaulted to humor even it if was bad or false at this moment.

Shaun said softly as he got back into the car as instantly James began protesting, “It’s okay Uncle, I got this.” Shaun said looking back with a nervous smile as he got back into the car as he slid next to Kate.

“No no you don’t have to get anything. I just need a second to,” she blew a breath out of her pursed lips long and slow. A nervous laugh followed as Kate looked at Shaun with a side glance moving nothing else. “Convince my hands to let go of this door handle.”

Getting very close behind her he wrapped his arms around her.

“What are you doing? Get back in that car. Get back in the car,” Kate ordered feeling her knees getting weak. Her grip was so tight on the rectangular piece of metal her knuckles had gone white. The car bobbed slightly with Shaun’s weight shifting the balance in the back seat as he moved across it.

“I really need you to not touch me,” Kate said in a low tone feeling his arms wrap around her waist. “I just need a minute to let…go.” The hitch in her voice and false smile plastered on her face looked comical to those only seeing the surface reaction. After years of knowing her, Shaun could feel the ripples of panic moving down her body. Closing her eyes, Kate could feel them start to fill. She was not remise of the situation and how silly she looked. Still it was not enough for Kate to push through.

She was gripping the sides so tight he knew she wouldn’t let go without a fight. In her mind this was life or death, and she could only see the fall. “I’m right here Katie bug.” he repeated, this time directly in her ear for only her to hear as he tried to get her to focus on him. “You are going to be fine, I would never let a single thing happen to you… but you are going to have to trust me.” he said softly as he tried to pull her back but felt her resistant to the movement.

“I do but that is not going to happen. I can’t let go. Physically I can’t let go.” She babbled in a normal tone. The sound of Shaun’s voice in her ear helped some. I was keeping her from hysterics, passing out, or a combination of the two. “Don’t pull. Don’t pull.” Her request was getting more urgent given the small tugs and wiggles from Shaun’s arms around her body.

“I just need a minute. Talk amongst yourselves.” Kate could feel her cheeks flaming red as she addressed everyone but Shaun. Defaulting to humor, using sarcasm in an upbeat tone, was something Kate had learned from her mother.

“You are going to have to let go, but I won’t let go… I will hold on tight but you need to trust me… just like you trusted me when I had to set your leg after you broke it, or the time I beat up Neil Walker when he said you looked fat… or when I insisted that you needed to use more than one pan to make my thanksgiving candy cake… I never steer you wrong, and I always protect you Katie bug, but you have to let go for me to pull you back… so trust me, cause I will always trust you.” Shaun said, his tone low and only for her to hear as he hoped he could break through her panic and get her to do as he said, otherwise they were gonna have to get drastic on how they rescued her.

Shaun’s voice was a familiar drone in her ear. “I can’t let go,” Kate repeated. She could not make out what he was saying to her entirely but the tone was soothing. Letting out another breath, Kate focused all her attention on his voice. She had to let go sometime. Kate was not perched precariously on the razor’s edge of the cliff but standing a few feet from the drop-off. Her logical mind knew this, yet her panic had risen to a level that was not processing logic.

Shaun didn’t seem to be giving her a choice in the matter as he stopped pull for a second and simply tightened his grip squeezing her into his body. The pressure was firm and unyielding enough that Kate could focus on that instead of her fingers not working. Gently but again firmly, Shaun pulled her slightly back causing her fingers to slide ninety degrees on the handle. This was now the weak point of a grip. All she needed to do was will her hands to flex open. Taking another deep breath, Kate let it out slowly nodding as Shaun spoke softly in her ear. The color was starting to come back to her skin causing her fingers to ache. “Don’t let me fall.” Kate managed only a whisper praying Shaun would do slow.

Pulling once more, Shaun felt the grip lessening as she eventually let go as she came falling back onto him as he held onto her tightly. “See… I always have your back.” he said as he began to help her get up so she could walk safely out the other end of the car to safety.

Grecken, Doctor

Instead of taking the offered hand, Kate used it to propel herself into a hug. Gripping Shaun tightly, she put her face down on his shoulder pressing her eyes into the fabric of his shirt. She just needed a minute to gather her composure. “Give me a second,” she asked Shaun.

“Anytime Katie bug.” Shaun said softly as he kept his arms around her tightly, knowing sometimes someone just needed the comfort of a dear friend to get over a life threatening experience.

“Is there a problem,” Dillon walked up to the pair sounded confused. Shaun’s friend had a bizarre reaction to stepping out of a car. Kate might be fun but she was also a drama llama Dillon thought. There was no way Kate was close enough to go over the edge of the cliff. This had to be a moment to just show off and get attention.

Shaun looked back at held a stern look on his face toward Dillon. “Not now Dillon.” he said, it was in that moment for anyone who really noticed such things, that Shaun was showing who his “favorite” girl really was. Kate and him had been through so much, and while Dillon was a friend he would never tolerate anyone trying to make Kate feel bad.

“No,” Kate popped her head up hearing the voice. She wanted a few more minutes and a few less people together her composure only that wouldn’t happen. “I had an issue with heights when I was little. It sorta put the fear of God in me over plummeting to my death,” she gave the group an answer. It was the truth just not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They weren’t in America so it was okay not to be perfectly candid with what amounted to fifty percent strangers.

Kate COS

“You mean the plummet to your death where you were going to have to take five steps to the edge of the cliff and then toss yourself over,” Dillon rose on her toes surveying the spot that Kate had been referring to.

“Dillon,” Liam rolled his eyes. He understood what Dillon was talking about in regard to the distance. It wasn’t like Kate was pinwheeling on the edge after stepping out of the car; however, people overreacted to spiders all the time so why not a height.

“I’m just sayin’,” she continued before James silenced the chattering kids. Dillon crossed her arms over her chest with a slight frown turning the corners of her mouth downwards.

“We are safe, that’s all that matters.” pipped in James as Jeremy had began to move towards the car as he inspected it. He was looking much like a giant orangutan might look at a tire swing, trying to work out the kinks in how to get them out of the situation they were in.

“James, Liam, help me move this away from the cliff so we can look at the damage. Shaun make sure the girls are okay.” Jeremy said, knowing that it was a moment to calm down and catch breath for Kate, as the poor girl still seemed shaking as Shaun nodded.

“I’m fine. Go play with the car,” Kate protested as Shaun moved her off to the side. She really didn’t want him poking around under the car yet there wasn’t anything he could do sitting beside her. Her cheeks were a dull crimson as embarrassment began to sink in over the event.

“Come on lets sit down.” Shaun said as he found a log nearby as he took off his jacket as he placed it over the log for Kate to sit next to him, completely ignoring Dillon who looked thoroughly displeased no attention was being slathered on her at the moment.

Grecken, Doctor

“I feel so stupid,” Kate put her face in her hands letting out a half-laugh. “I just panic sometimes. My mom says I will get over it but it is has been like eight years.”

Dillon groaned under her breath and sighed deeply. The only way to spend some time with Shaun was going to have to involve the American chippy. Moving over to the log, Dillon sat down on the other side of Shaun overhearing the tail end of the conversation.

“Eight years since,” Dillon leaned forward around Shaun to see Kate.

“The first of a series of events that proved I should always keep my feet firmly on the ground right,” Kate nudged Shaun with her shoulder.

Yay another installment of the Kate and Shaun Chronicles, Dillon thought however she patiently waited for Kate to continue the story. Not by choice mind you but she had to play nice not to annoy Shaun.

Kate had no desire to spill the intimacies of her life but some stories weren’t so bad to tell when the ending was happy. “It was like four years ago,” Kate looked up briefly for confirmation at Shaun.

“Shaun and I were camping with our families. Camping with the O’Neills and Greckens is always an adventure. So much so we have the inside joke of once when we were camping.” Kate’s voice trailed off as an easy smile replaced the tension that was there just a while before. “Anyway our parents brought the holoprojectors and had us watching some adventure movie where the hero swung across ravines and things on vines. Well the next day Shaun and I are again ditched by our siblings so off we went ‘splorin. We found a small ravine surrounded by trees. For the next hour or so we created a vine swing out of Virginia creeper.”

“Is it like Irish ivy,” Dillon asked already bored with the story. “Irish Ivy is way better than English Ivy. The leaves are larger and stronger the old English variety. They also smell sweetish and not musty like the English variety.”

Kate pushed off Shaun’s coat around her shoulders as she leaned forward raising an eyebrow. “Are you calling me English ivy?” Dillon might be playing all sweet and innocent but if there was one thing Kate excelled was polite sarcasm.

Dillon shrugged slightly happy Kate seemed to pick up on the dig. It was vague enough that Kate would look like the one picking the fight if she pursued it. While Kate was American, technically most American’s came from England. If Kate wanted to connect the dots Dillon was dropping that was fine with her.

Eager not to put the attention back on Kate, Dillon tapped Shaun’s leg with a smile. “Your story sounds like ours. Remember that time we used English ivy to try and climb up the wall like Spiderman on that old barn at my Aunt’s house? Shaun was positive it would hold,” she let out a deep laugh,” but then again if one was always right they wouldn’t have the saying famous last words huh.” If Kate was going to play tit for tat on the Shaun memories, Dillon had an equally full arsenal to pull from. The use of our as a pronoun gave the allure that there was more to Shaun and Dillon, than Kate’s use of our families. It was subtle but subtle was how you won fights between girls. The expression on Kate’s face showed she caught what Dillon was implying.

Kate

“Okay, I think that’s enough talking for now…” Shaun said as he stood up as he quickly began to pace as he was awaiting news from his Uncles and cousin. This was quickly becoming a bit more than he expected. Kate and Dillon where just his friends, least that was the thing he told everyone. Truth was, one of them had become to become much more for quite some time. The problem was Shaun didn’t know how to tell the other this information without hurting.

He wasn’t completely blind, least he didn’t think he was. His sisters always told him how girls minds work, and how vengeful they could be. They often told him there was a reason there was a phrase of being aware of scorned women. Shaun’s counter of men causing most wars didn’t seem to be a good enough answer to counter their arguments. It wasn’t until he saw Elspeth fill her ex boyfriends new PlayStation Infinity with sugar and giving it back only for it to melt and burn that he truly understood what they meant.

“How about we go for a walk? It’s nature… you like nature Kate, and Dillon doesn’t come to this area often… we can go down the trail and get to the lake… if I am right there is a boat we can cross to get the town faster than them pushing so they can replicate fuel.” Shaun said in a desperate hope beyond hopes they would agree and not fight anymore.

Grecken, Doctor


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