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Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Little Cam - Last Part

I added another page to the Cam and Damon scene I posted last week. I've included the original pages so that if you didn't read it, there's no need to search backward. Also, so that anyone who wants to read it in one fell swoop has it all in one place. I will try to post more next Sunday.

Warning: This is rough first draft and only part of the scene.

This story is copyright 2010 by Patti O'Shea. Please link to the story if you like, but do not copy.

* * *
Cameron Brody leaned back, propping both elbows on the deck railing, and looked inside the house. His parents were in the kitchen, cleaning up after dinner and he could see them talking with each other. There was a lot of smiling, frequent laughter, and he felt something around his heart ease.

Coming home on leave had been the right decision.

He'd almost stayed on post. Cam knew he'd changed a lot since the last time he'd seen his family, but then battle did that to a man.

His brothers had taken off hours ago. It was Friday night and they had things to do, places to be. He'd never been all that close to them, but the age difference made it hard to relate. Cam was twenty-four--he'd been through West Point and fought in the war. His brothers were six and eight years younger--still in high school and more worried about the brand of jeans they wore than about things that really mattered.

As he watched, his dad danced his mom around the kitchen, and with a faint smile, Cam turned, resting his forearms on the railing. He stared off into the woods that surrounded the property and allowed himself to enjoy the warmth of the summer evening. All his life he'd had his parents' love for each other and their love for him as a bulwark against the world. It steadied something inside him to see nothing had changed, that their feelings continued to run deeply. He wanted that, too. Some day.

Cam sighed and watched the birds flit around the trees. His dad had been in combat, he'd been part of Special Operations, and if he could make it through war, so could Cam. But damn, he thought he'd been prepared. His dad had told him what it was like, had been brutally frank about the ugliness of battle, and between that and the simulation training he'd taken, Cam had thought he'd be able to handle it easily.

He couldn't.

Nothing could have prepared him to kill, to watch men around him fall to enemy fire. Nothing could erase what he'd seen from his memory. He leaned farther forward, dropping his head nearly to his hands.

"Are you okay?"

With a jerk, Cam straightened. He hadn't heard his dad come up and he hadn't thought anyone would be able to get the drop on him, not as wound up as he was from being in the field. "Fine."

His dad looked skeptical, but instead of arguing, he invited, "Why don't we take a walk?"

The urge to refuse was strong, but there was no good reason to say no. There were hours of daylight left, and if he declined, it would probably lead to more pointed questions. With a shrug, Cam capitulated. "Sure."

Parkland abutted the property, isolating them from civilization, and despite his worry about his dad quizzing him, they simply walked. Early evening sunshine filtered through the leaves of the trees, dappling the path they were taking, a light breeze ruffled his hair, birds called to each other, and rabbits scurried away. Jamming his hands in the pockets of his jeans, he focused on all this and tried to ignore the presence of his dad beside him.

But the silence begin to wear on him. When was his dad going to say something? There was no doubt he would and the waiting pulled Cam's nerves taut. Another ten minutes passed and he couldn't take it anymore. "Aren't you going to interrogate me?"

"Did you want me to ask questions?"

Cam felt his dad's eyes on him, but he kept his gaze straight ahead. "No."

"Then I won't."

What did that mean? Cam turned the words over in his mind, but he didn't find any answers. Damn, his dad could be cryptic when he wanted to be. Cam lost his focus on the trees, on the birds. The quiet coming from the man beside him seemed heavy, oppressive.

He cracked. "When I close my eyes, all I see is blood. I thought I could handle this, but I can't seem to take it in stride, not like you did."

"You think I escaped unscathed?" His dad's disbelief came through loud and clear. "No one leaves war unaffected, certainly not me. I still have nightmares about things that happened when I was your age."

That stopped Cam in his tracks. "You?" he asked, looking at his dad for the first time since they left the house.

"Yeah, me."

"But you never said anything, not about any specific incident."

"I don't like to talk about it, something you should understand."

Yeah, Cam didn't have a lot of room to complain. He didn't want to discuss the stuff that he'd seen either. "How much does Mom know?"


He tried to wrap his mind around that. "You told Mom?"

"We don't have secrets, not about anything important."

Yeah, he could see how close they were, but to share war stories? "But Mom is delicate."

Throwing his head back, his dad laughed. "Damn, Cam," he said when he had the amusement under control, "I thought you were more observant than that."

Cam scowled. "Mom's tiny."

"Compared to us, yes, she's tiny, but she's not delicate. Your mom is as tough as they come, she's had to be."

Tough? His mom? "But you're so protective of her."

"Because she's my world."

The words were simple, but held so much emotion that Cam became uncomfortable and he had to look away. He pulled his hands out of his pockets, found a broad tree trunk just off the path, and leaned against it.

"Sure, maybe Mom's tough when it comes to facing down a teacher who's been treating one of her kids unfairly, but no way is she tough enough to deal with the kinds of things we've seen."

For a long moment, his dad stared at him and Cam wondered what he was thinking. He didn't have too long to wait.

"You know, your mom was on a Colonization Assessment Team. They don't send people who aren't tough to planets light years away from Earth. She was one of twenty on Jarved Nine–it takes a special kind of courage to be part of that."

That gave Cam pause. He'd known about the CAT assignment, but he hadn't considered what it meant. Not really. He tried to imagine the isolation and couldn't. Pushing away from the tree, he said, "Let's head to the creek."

As they walked some more, he thought about his mom, but he couldn't seem to switch his mindset about her. "You know, I can't even visualize that. She's just Mom."

"Then the rest will blow your mind."

Cam couldn't read the note in his dad's voice, but something about it had him tensing. "What rest?"

The quiet lengthened, but he didn't push–his dad had respected his silence, Cam could do the same. When they reached the creek, his dad leaned against a large boulder and Cam hopped up and sat on the one next to it. And he waited.

"Most of this is remains classified," his dad said at last, "but what I can tell you is that your mom's CAT team was massacred and she was the only survivor. And when the rest of my team was murdered, she and I were alone on J Nine with a killer after us until help arrived from Earth. She saved my ass more than once during those weeks and I couldn't have taken down the murderer without her."

"Mom?" Cam's eyes bugged out.

"Yes." His dad looked over at him. "Mom. Still don't think she's tough enough to deal with my baggage or yours for that matter?"

Slowly, Cam shook his head, more in disbelief than in denial. "She must have her own nightmares."

More silence, then, "It was dark and she couldn't see anything. Mom discovered the bodies when she fell over them. When I found her, she was covered in the blood of her friends, so yeah, she has nightmares."

Cam had a dozen questions, maybe more, but he fought off the need to ask them. Classified meant his dad probably couldn't answer, but Cam put together a few pieces on his own. "This is a far different version of how you met than what you told us."

Some of the grimness left his dad's face. "Did you think we were going to give you the gritty details when you were a kid?"

No, because both his parents were protective and Cam doubted he would have been told any of this today if he hadn't faced his own hell in battle. He couldn't have truly appreciated how bad the situation had been way back then without the experience he'd had. "Dad? How do you put it behind you? How do you forget what you've seen, what you've done?"

"You never forget, but you learn to compartmentalize and you learn to live with the memories ambushing you from time to time. And believe it or not, it helps to talk about it with someone you trust."

After mulling that over for a moment, Cam said, "I'm not ready to discuss it yet."

"Fair enough, but if you can't talk to me, remember, you've got your mom, too. And if you're not comfortable bringing it up with either one of us, there are the friends you went into battle with or the army counselors, but don't leave it locked up for too long. Trust me on this one."

Cam nodded. He did trust his dad and his advice, but he needed more mental distance before he talked about what had happened with anyone and he wasn't there yet.

End of Scene

Copyright 2010 by Patti O'Shea - All Rights Reserved.