MD #181: Happy Families
Happy Families
Summary: Toby pays a visit to Kelsey's family down on Pitchfork
Date: 06/10/2017
Related Logs: None
DropkickST Toby 
Refugee Camp - Pitchfork
See text

The camp on Pitchfork isn't anything to sneeze at. Most of the tent village is set up in a large group. Hundreds of tents kept together as a family, which makes it easier to patrol and defend. Finding Bill Decker isn't hard in the evening. He's joined the ranch crews and spent most of his day on a horse, running cattle around. He's at his tent, washing up in a bucket with the kids inside the close tent while he runs a wet cloth over his face and neck. There's plenty of people milling bout, including Marines and plenty more civilians, but he seems to keep to himself.

It's Toby's first time on world. He's had mixed feelings about getting mud on his boots. On one side it's fresh air, and somewhere that isn't the ship, but there's part of his brain that's scared that he might like it, and the fight to get back to P might lessen. In the end though it's necessity that drives him and he steps off the raptor in his off-duties, but with his PT hoodie over the top for warmth. Following the directions given he finds the right tent and approaches from the front, giving Bill plenty of chance to see him coming.

Bill finishes wiping the grit off his neck and squeezes the dirty water into a different bucket. He dips the cloth again and squeezes it over his head. Seems it’s been a long day. He wipes off his forehead and slicks back the hair, and that's when he sees Toby approaching in his hoodie. The cloth is tossed down to the clean bucket and he dries off his hands on a towel hanging by the tent. Taking the few extra steps to meet, he offers his hand. "I actually didn't know until now if I wanted to see you again. Glad you came by, Mister Shackleton."

Toby takes the offered hand, it's a bit awkward still, and he clearly has things on his mind, but he's trying at least. "Mr Wescott," he does remember the man's actual name, it just feels.. wrong to think of Kelsey by any other name, and thus by extension, her husband. Even then though, the formality doesn't sit well and he quickly says, "it's Toby, everyone calls me Toby, it's easier." He has a battered rucksack on one shoulder, which he sets down by the tent before diving into his pocket and producing a hipflask. "I tapped Bevan's still, if it's anything like his old stuff it'll be foul as anything, but it was the best on offer."

Bill chuckles and gives a solid, working-man's handshake. "Then let's stick to first names. Bill. Kelsey went by my name in public because of the Skath, but in private she never lost who she was. Hard to disrespect that, so you aren't even wrong with the address." There's a good, heavy laugh despite the low volume. He watches the ruck and then the flask come out and there's a low smile. "Shine offered is still a kindness, no apology needed for an offer in kind. Every guy needs a little hair in awkward places, right?" He doesn't reach for the flask, though. "My son was asking about you. I told him. Him and Lydia are asleep for right now, though. That's a tough conversation to have but he's had to grow up fast. Lydia understood it better. She'd like to meet you, too." There's a glance to the tent, then back to Toby. "I told them that I would think about letting them meet you. I didn't want to say yes and just unleash them at you. That sorta thing ain't fair on even your best day. And no need to answer, but it’s out there for the future if you want."

The handshake may be over but Toby keeps the flask extended out, not apparently about to drink from it himself. "Bill," Toby confirms, then listens to the talk about the children, glancing once to the tent as their assumed location. "What did you tell them?" he asks quietly, once the other man is finished, "or I guess I mean, how much did you tell them?" The 'what' being pretty obvious. He looks back to the tent again and notes, "we're jumping out soon. I don't know what the long term plan is," if they're coming back or not, "it's why I came." Using the flask to gesticulate towards the rucksack he dropped earlier he continues, "I didn't bring much with me when I re-enlisted, but what there is is there. I reckon we're of a size, or close enough. Reckon you'll need 'em more here. Frak, you can have the hoodie too if you want it. I can just tell stores I lost it and sign out another. Not as if they can dock my pay for it."

Bill takes the offered flask and tilts it back. A couple shots for him and he offers it back, still swallowing. "Hew!" he chuckles and shakes his head. "That's some white lightning right there. Weapons grade." He gestures them over towards a couple stool, hastily built from logs taken down already. A heavy seat, he continues, "I told them the truth, Toby. I told them that their mother loved me and also loved another man. I told them that it probably sounds bad right now, but in time they would understand. Lydia gets it. Girls always get that shit first before guys do, I guess. I told them that their mother loved them more than either you or I, but that love for a partner is something they will understand later. Life is complicated. Tobias asked me if we'd shaken hands. I told him you and I were looking to go for a beer." The guy takes a long breath, fixated gaze on Toby. "Best you or I can do for these kids is give them the straight shit. They had to live with a lot of crap shoved down their throats but I can't lie about her. She's too important to them, especially Lydia. I need her to understand strength and that she counts. Mom's the best example I can give." There's another sip of the flask before he hands it back. The words about the ruck have him look over to it, then back. "I'll hold on to it, keep it clean. No problem wearing what’s needed or having Tobias wear it. Hell, he'd probably love to have some of your clothes. Keep the hoodie, though. We'll power through. But I do appreciate the sentiment, man. Really."

Toby shakes his head as the flask is offered back, sticking his hands into his pockets as he does so to indicate he doesn't want it back. He does take a log though, explaining as he settles himself down, "I don't. Haven't in a long time now. Makes me less inclined to try and solve every problem with my fists." As the conversation turns to the children he nods along slowly. "I won't lie to your kids, I won't lie to you. I'm Mithraen, it's not a thing we do. If we make it back, just let me know if there are any topics not to be broached. "Lying is a no no, obfuscation and omission, grey areas. "Do with it as you think best," he replies, tilting his head towards the rucksack again, "only thing of value in there is a Bulls shirt I swiped of Picon a few months after the toasters hit, and that’s only sentiment really. Wear them, use them for rags, whatever it is you need most. I'm just sorry I've nothing more to offer."

"Solving problems with your fist isn't always the worst way to solve them. Sometimes you have to. Sometimes you don't, but you do anyway. Bad, good." Bill shrugs. "You're not some child, Toby. You're a grown-ass man. You do you. Let it flow. I think.. If Kelsey were here? I think she'd tell you that fighting for what's right is important. But when you have kids, you have to be wary of the example you set." He switches to Tauran briefly, quoting an old Tauran proverb, «Fighting your enemies is sometimes fighting yourself.» There's no hatred with it, though. He says it and seems to legitimately understand it. Switching back, "I never understood what Kelsey meant by that until I thought about it after she died. That struggle to control. For a long time I thought it was about inner demons or something, but Lydia said it one day and it hit home. It's not about battling yourself, but battling your space. Making something safe for your family. Keeping them away, and at a distance you can live with. Finding a balance." He sips the flask again. "But I suppose it also applies at the basic level." The flask has the cap tipped back onto the screw and he holds it there.
The idea of Mithras has him go quiet and he looks away. "So that's where that came from." Bill looks down and then back over. "I'm as heavy into the Gods as you get. Kelsey raised them to challenge everything. I'm not worried about them being exposed to other ideas, as long as its done fair and they are allowed to choose. I promise you, though, they won't take ideas shoved at them." Lydia killed the local priest. Her little brother seemed as serious as they come. "As for your jersey? You better take that. I mean it. Anything down here is going to get used. That's of considerable value. I mean it, brother. Take it. Don't leave that here. Lydia will probably take it and wear it into the ground."

"Sometimes it isn't," Toby agrees easily enough, "but sometimes it's a terrible idea, and being able to tell which is which is important." He ducks his head a little at the invocation of Kelsey though. He's wondered what she'd make of his recent efforts to transfer, but now those are down in flames he almost doesn't want to, in case she'd be disappointed in him for the failure. "I don't know what she'd say, but she saw me during some pretty fraking bad times, I expect she'd be supportive of the idea of them not being stupid enough to let them repeat though." He shakes his head at the talk of religion though. "I never saw any truth in the Lords of Kobol," he admits, "and nothing I've seen over the years has changed that. But one thing that I know is important is faith. What in doesn’t matter as much as the act itself. If they are your faith, then hold them strong to you, as I hold mine, and when they settle in theirs’s, so will your children." It's very slightly easier to think of them as Bill's children, rather than Kelsey's it seems. "I've worn it for twenty years," he notes regarding the top, "if we don't make it back, if anything happens and I take the shortcut back to Piraeus, what good would it be there. Here at least it can be of use." He does want to know what it was that Kelsey said or did relating to Mithras, but this conversation is awkward enough as it is, it might have to wait til next time.

Bill shrugs. He's not looking to judge. "She loved you, Toby. Knowing her, it was for who you were. And probably still are." He leans forward, elbows on his knees. Voice kept low to avoid the kids overhearing if one or both happen to be awake, "We all have lows, my friend. All of us. It just seems like another week or month when it’s just you. Before I met her and had kids? Plenty. Had plenty after. But you think about it more when you know someone else is watching. You probably wanted to be better for her, same way I did. Kids watching? It changes everything. Don't kick yourself, though. Nobody is ever ready to be a parent. You just do the best you can." Like Toby said, try to prevent the same mistakes. To the topic of faith, he nods. "I was raised pretty strict. First time I met Kelsey we argued about religion. She hit me in the jaw and put me in the dirt. I couldn't get her out of my mind after. So I'm with you there. Believe in something. Believe strong. Lydia and Tobias are given every opportunity to learn. Neither seems too inclined towards anything yet." The point about the jersey gets a chuckle and he shrugs. "Well then up to you. Just don't be surprised if you see Lydia walking around in it. Like I said, she understands why she learned Tauran growing up. I just hope you can get back here to see her wearing it, man."

"Reckon she loved you too," Toby replies, not entirely sure why, but it seems wrong not to. He's in a low right now, although likely the kind to get him to tap more of Bevan's still than wind up in the brig, but one could theoretically lead to the other. A slow, knowing nod is given and then, before things get too awkward he's pushing himself to his feet again. "The raptor schedules are pretty tight," he explains, "lots of people wanting to head down now we've been told we're going. We can't all get the last shuttle back." Finally taking a hand out of his pockets again he offers it across once more, "good luck you to, and to them. I hope things work out here. But.." here comes the awkward, "just, so.. you know. If anything does happen to us, I won't.. you know, get in the way until it's your turn. I mean, I don't know how things work like that, but . well, you know what I mean." He hopes he knows what he means anyway, it's all quite hard to articulate.

"I know she did. I appreciate you saying as much, though. But at this point I think its probably more important that you remember she loved you too. I hate saying it, but you don't need bullshit. Truth is real." Say what Toby wants about Bill, the man does respect him. He does rise with Toby, though, and put the flask back in his hand. He claps it in there with a shake. Looking Toby in the eye, "Whatever awaits us on the other side, I'm sure we can work it out. A heart that big? I'm sure there's more to it than what we have here." His hand drops and he gives the guy an understanding nod. "You're always welcome in our home, Toby. Do us all a favour and don't be a stranger."

Toby has nobody beside him but he can feel something take his hand softly. At the edge of the breeze is the cent of lilac and strawberry. She's there with him.

Toby hadn't meant to be taking the flask back, but he doesn’t press the point, just slips it back into the pocket he pulled it from earlier. "Guess we'll just have to wait and see," he replies returning the look for a moment. "I'll see what I can do, but I have no idea when we'll be back, or even if there'll be comms runs or not." Ah, the good old post raptor. "but we'll see. And if they still want to, then I can try and stop by at a time when they're actually awake." He doesn't nod to the tent this time, figuring the context should be easy enough to follow. "Good luck," he says again, a final time this time, and it's as he turns to depart that he fells the touch. Fortunately he's looking away from Bill by that point, so the fact that he then screws his eyes up and utterly fails to stop them becoming moist is likely hidden as he gently squeezes the hand back.

As he walks, the hold to his hand stays. He hears a few words on the breeze as he approaches the Raptor, "It's harder to love than hate." The feeling fades and is gone.

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