Love Makes Hunters of Us All
Posted on September 16th, 2004 by Adam Drake and Jack Leirone
The night had come all too soon. The day crew were getting tired and most had already done their necessary repairs and gone home. Only those with a real affinity for engineer work stayed and lagged behind. Drake just sat behind his desk pouring over reports. The Chief Engineer job was great, but the paperwork was atrocious. Sighing, Adam tossed the information aside and walked out into the foray.
“All right day crew, go home.” Several looks floated his way, but they all acknowledged and left. Potter and Kendrick went, chatting about something unimportant, and Adam stepped up and began walking alongside Jack as he made his exit. “Hey Jack, wanna grab a drink?”
“Sure,” Jack said. In the past, when such socialite offerings of sitting somewhere and ingesting something came up, and Jack tried to refuse, Drake always found a way to c oerce him into doing it anyway. At this point in time, Jack was the opposite of robust, his wits still clinging to the space battle he’d endured hours before like a fly to a spiderweb. And he felt not the inclination to argue. Going to have a drink with the Chief – again – would take less power than squabbling with him.
Stepping into the turbolift, Adam thought about the skirmish that they’d been involved in and how his crew had reacted. Normally, on Atlantis, things would’ve run smoothly, but the fact that the ship was experimental and all made things incredibly hectic and more difficult than they needed to be. “So, you guys flew great out there. Some times I envy you guys. The crew, the whole crew, has surpassed my expectations of how they would perform in battle.”
Leirone wondered if Drake was meaning to be aloof, but let it pass. He thanked Drake, feeling strange for speaking for the whole complimented crowd, and sat, leaning against the rear wall of th e turbolif, waiting for the next superfluous topic of conversation to bloom.
The awkward silence was almost unbearable, but Adam just pushed through it. “How do you like working under Blackthorne? You think he’s a capable Admiral?” It was a shot at something to spark Jack’s tongue, but he figured it fall short – way short.
“I like him,” Jack replied, stopping to close his lips and run his teeth over his lips. “And yeah, I think he’s very capable.” Interest seemed to be drowning.
It was his trump card, or so he called it. The one topic that the man couldn’t avoid and, if he did, Drake could pick apart the conversation for him. “So, how’s Nicole? I hear that you two are quite the couple now. She couldn’t stop talking about you two the last time I was in Sickbay. She’s very happy. She was glowing, almost.”
A tornado seemed to snake from Jack’s throat and spew words out of the widened part of the tunnel. “Yeah, she’s great. You know, no offen se, but she’s quite possibly the only person on this ship I enjoy being around. I mean, yes, I do like most of the people on the ship, but I’m a solitudinous person, and like my own company. But she brings out this strange emotion in me, some sort of welcome mat, and I like, I love being around her. One day, when we were off duty, we stayed in bed for hours and talked and talked and talked for hours on end. Sometimes I wish work wasn’t so demanding, or else no one could tear us apart. You know?” My God, Jack, you do go on, he told himself.
Trump card, exactly. Adam smiled and walked out as the turbolift slid to a halt. “I can’t say that I have actually. I’ve always been in a career position where I had little if any time to myself or anyone else. It’s been a hectic road that has been nothing but work. From this station to that encampment and then to this ship or that one; life as I know it has revolved solely around working.” Walking into the lounge he sat down on a stool and motioned to the barkeeper, “Lesican Rum, please.”
The bartender nodded as if he already knew what the man was going to order and pour it immediately. Handing Adam his drink the man nodded, “another long shift, Major?”
“Yeah, Elan, yes it was. What are you having, Jack?”
“I could really go for an In Flagrante Delicto,” and Jack heard his stomach speak to him an a reptilian croak. “And a sandwich. Turkey, cheese.” Turning himself toward Drake, he felt as if he could reach out a little bit, grasp a conversation with another person who was not Nicole. Oh, with her he could say anything, ask anything, tell her his secrets, tell her he loves her, anything. He figured if he was reaching that far with her, he supposed he could ask a friendly question, out of the blue, to a co-worker. “What about you? Is there some relationship you’re in or something?” How…horribly…awkward.
Sipping at his drink, Adam nodded. “Yeah, well, sort of. Sa rina Ja’ral, she’s in medical to start. However, she’s been so caught in her work and her personal life that I haven’t seen her. I’ve never been very successful with women to begin with, with work and all, but I really like this one.” He took another small mouthful, “at least I think I like her.”
Down in front of him was set the sandwich of the Gods and the drink of destiny. He began to inhumanely devour it. With his mouth full, he mumbled, “You think you like her? How could you be with someone if you think you like her?”
“It looks like you’re eating a small child, Jack, good God,” Adam smiled and slid the man a napkin down the bar, “I don’t know. I enjoy being with her and I enjoy when we’re together, but I’ve felt the same about really close friends. Which, as you could probably imagine, I have few of as well. Jeddin is the closest person I have as a friend here.”
“It’s my personal advice, take it or leave it, to hold the relations hip until you’re sure you like her.”
“Maybe you’re right. There are a couple of others that I am interested in. And, there’s always the stalker,” Adam said the word stalker with a laugh as he down the last of his beverage and placed the empty glass on the bar. “I just don’t know if I could find time for them. For the most part I wouldn’t see them anyway. There are perks to the relationship, but what if there isn’t time?”
Nearly lodging a chunk of turkey in his throat, Jack coughed and sipped at his drink again. Then he recited, “L’amore fa i cacciatoridi noi tutti,” then placed his sandwich on the plate, what was left of it. Holding up an index finger, he said, “You know what that means, Chief?”
“No,” Adam took his refilled drink, “what?”
“It means, ‘Love makes hunters of us all.’ You really can’t deny that, can you?”
“How it applies to me I’m not seeing, Jack.”
Jack crammed the rest of his sandwich in his mouth. He had been h ungry all day. “Well, here you are, saying that you are too tied up in your work to have a real relationship with Sarina. You never see her. All you have to do, is follow your true instinct, to hunt her, to go looking for her, to find her and give her your love. Yes. In engineering I find myself tied up a lot. I get my workdone, but I always find time to see Nicole. Because love has made me a hunter for her. See where I’m getting at? If you really do love her, you’ll spare time for her. It’s our modern way of hunting.” Swiveling around to face the barkeep, he ordered another sandwich and a refill on his In Flagrante Delicto.
It was time to take a hazardous step into unknown territory. Adam polished off his second drink and leaned over to Jack, “Hey, Jack, do you remember our little episode that we had in the jefferies tube a while back. When we both revealed elements of our past?”
Establishing an abjuration, he replied, “Thanks for fixing my fighter, earlier .”
He took it as he knew what Adam was referring to, “Well, to make a long story short, that’s another reason why it has been so hard to get close to anyone. I don’t want anyone to know – you’re the exception; the only exception at that.”
Okay, psychology session over. Time to revert. “Can I get this sandwich to go?”
“You got the point. So, maybe we can arrange a double date or something sometime? You and Nikki and Sarina and I? Wouldn’t that be fun? Nikki had said something about it sounding like a cool idea because she really likes hanging out with Sarina too.” Adam was now just trying to pull the conversation into something a little less threatening.
Once his sandwich was packaged, he downed the rest of his drink and stood up, now getting closer to speak softly to his comrade. “I hate the idea,” he said. “I’m going home.” Then he breezed his way to the turbolift irately, holding the wrapped sandwich in his left hand, almost too hard; some turkey looked like it would slip out from between the slices of bread.
Slightly taken aback, Adam made a fledgling motion to bid his farewell, but Jack was gone. Sighing almost helplessly he ordered himself another drink. Friends just didn’t seem to be in the stars for him it seemed. Maybe it was his personality? Maybe it was the way he carried himself? Whatever, Adam thought, Jack had problems that even he didn’t want to touch.
Hunters! We’re all hunters! What bodily orifice did you pull that from, Leirone, you sappy, worthless ejaculate? A little seclusion ought to fix you up right. Hunters…you know, you can make yourself seem like a total chump sometimes. And what would the rest of the crew think of you if you’re spouting off that romanticism, that sickening poetry all the time? Time to go home and be by yourself, and tomorrow, you’ll be by yourself, and the next day for that matter. A weekend from humanity, that’s what. No conversations, no pow-wows , nothing. Just get up, go to work, don’t open your mouth, come home, wash up, kiss Nicole goodnight, and then go to b…
Jack Leirone realized something. Earlier in the evening, he had said Nicole was the only person he enjoyed being around. He uncovered this as true. Under the clouds of his mind, there was no rain of words. Just her, standing there looking at him. As a loving woman always would. L’amore fa i cacciatori di noi tutti.