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Posted on Wed Jul 10th, 2019 @ 5:19pm by Captain James McCullen

Mission: Reaching Out in Hope
Location: Captain's Quarters, USS Sentinel
Timeline: MD1, 2100 Hrs

After his misadventure in the holodeck, Captain McCullen had spent some time in the sauna then retreated to his quarters to lick his wounds. He needed to talk, not to a random counselor or the doctor, but to the one person in the universe he could share everything and anything with.

"Computer, open a channel to Starfleet command, Admiral McCullen's office." He commanded, wondering if she'd be available to talk. The captain generally called home once a week, on a Sunday, an off-schedule call would probably start alarm bells ringing and he felt a little guilty for that, but sometimes, one needed a sympathetic ear.

"Jim?" His wife's face, beautiful even through the concerned frown she was wearing, appeared on the screen. It continued to amaze him how just the sight of her made him feel more at ease. "What's wrong? Where are you?"

An image popped into his head of his wife commandeering a starship at phaser-point and storming her way across half the quadrant to get to whatever she thought was wrong, and he couldn't help but grin, partly because he knew she'd do it, if she thought for a moment that one of hers needed her. "Nothing seeing you can't fix, my deuterium-skinned darling." He schmoozed, getting the expected groan, accompanied by a full eye-roll. It was a ritual that had grown up between them over the years, ever since she'd accused him of being a 'damn terrible poet and a worse romantic.' He'd never tell her, but he spent far too much time every week coming up with the worst epitaphs he could think of.

"Jesus, Jimmy, they don't get any better." She grinned, "deuterium-skinned darling? Blergh" She mimed vomiting, "seriously, McCullen, that's almost bad enough to be good. Now, I restate my question, what's wrong?"

"Nothing serious," he assured, "I, uh, had a bit of an accident in the holodeck today, that's all." He saw the alarm bells warming up in her face and added, "I'm fine now, doctor fixed me up just fine, but it's made me... contemplate, a bit."

"Well, that's never good. You thinking too much again, McCullen? Tell me what your dumb-ass did now."

"So... I was playing a quick match of Parisses Squares."

"Jim..." She was frowning that part amused, part why-the-hell-did-I-marry-this-idiot frown.

"Took a heavy tackle and... kinda messed up my back."

"Shit, hun."

"Ended up having to call the doctor to the holodeck 'fore I could stand up."

"All right, so part one of your verbal ass-kicking is why the hell were you playing Parisses Squares again? I thought we'd talked about this, Jim? I hate to break it to you, husband-mine, but you're too damn old to be playing a teenager's game." Her frown had changed subtly, going from amused, to concerned, to upset and finally settling on sad.

"That's what the doctor said, and in my heart-of-hearts, I know it. But there's that part of me that doesn't want to give it up, that thinks I can probably keep playing if I take some back-strengthening exercises, or do yoga, or something. Dammit, Beth, I'm not an old man!" And there was the crux of it. He didn't feel old, he wasn't old.

"No, but you are getting old, Jim. We both are, and you probably could keep playing." She replied, using her gentle voice, the one she used when she was talking to small children and idiots, and husbands in crisis. "The question is - should you? There comes a point where dignity has to play a part, there comes a time when you have to accept, however hard it is, that there are some things you have to give up, that are the purview of the young, not the... aging."

"Nor the old," James sighed, he could have felt bitter about the whole thing and there was a part of his brain that wanted to be bitter about it, that wanted to rage and roil at the loss, but in the main he knew that he'd already thought the things his wife was telling him. He'd only needed to hear them from her to cement them as the truth. The acceptance of the thing felt like a weight lifted from his soul and while he was still upset about it, he felt better able to deal with it. "Maybe you can buy me a pair of slippers and a smoking pipe for my birthday, babe." He gave her a grin

"Maybe a prescription for retinax five and a servo-skeleton for your old, tired legs." Elizabeth smirked, "life is change, Jimmy, you know that."

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I have to like the changes, wife-of-mine." He smiled warmly, "Thanks, Beth, for telling me what I already kinda knew, it helps. I knew there was a reason I married a counselor."

"I'm still trying to figure out why the hell I married a hot-shot tactical officer," she grinned wickedly, "but you're welcome. Now, I hate to leave you, but I've got a meeting scheduled in about five minutes. Speak to you on Sunday?"

"Of course, heart-and-soul, babe." The captain replied

"Always," was her only reply, it was another one of those things that had grown up between them, and was almost always the way they ended their conversations. She smiled at him, and then the screen went back to the Starfleet logo.

McCullen sat for a moment, staring at the screen and thinking how lucky he was, and then stood, deciding that it was long time to stop moping and get back to work.


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