That's My Q #87 & 88 "...'Preparations'... Yeah..."


Amelia set out walking and walking... not sure where she was going or why. At first she was furious, then she was upset, then she was just saddened. Kitty's intuition lent her a new feel for what she was risking, for what she might be losing. In all of his anger, he hadn't shouted, hadn't hit, and he'd said he'd been faithful, even though she hadn't asked it of him.

Finally, she found herself back at the airfield. Increasingly despondent, she wandered into the same eating area where she'd met Noonan earlier that day. It was mostly deserted now, a faint yellow light cast across the room. She sat down at the corner table and put her head down on her arms, remaining silent.

The woman manning the graveshift at the counter was questioning wether to offer the tired looking pilotesse a cup of comfort, or to just leave her alone, and let her work things out on herself, when suddenly a muffled clang was heard from somewhere outside, followed by a series of curses, that could just be made out through the thin metal walls that made up the mess hall and the hangars. It was only half a minute later that the door slammed open, and a figure in a greasy oily overall walked in, towards the ever manned bar.

"One beer, please." he said with a chagrined tone. It was the mix of Noonan's pride and Evans' impatience that made him so angry at that piece of metal junk that had not come loose for hours, and then suddenly almost dropped onto his feet from nearly a meter up. His experience had told him to call it a night, before somethin bad happened. He was so angry, that he didn't even notice Amelia sitting in the corner...

Amelia looked up as her navigator entered. She watched him go find his drink, and considered calling out to him. Kitty wanted to. Amelia didn't. So she lifted her head, rubbing away the tearstains, and remained silent.

Noonan made himself reasonably comfortable on the bar stool, and took a swig from the bottle. He looked around the hall, and noticed that there was someone else in the mess hall. <That's odd... What's that bloke doing there at this hour? What time is it anyway? Waaaiit a sec... That's no bloke...>

"Amelia?" Noonan asked, as he got up to go sit with her. "What the hell are *you* doing here?"

She looked up at him as he noticed her anyways and approached. "Uh..." A bit of that pride flashed up, and she tried somehow to look as if she hadn't just been crying. "Night flying practice? Might, uhm, be a good idea?" <That's about the lamest excuse I ever came up with,> she thought.

"Eh... If you say so..." Noonan sighed, realising full well that she was lying through her teeth. "Wanna beer?"

Yeah," Amelia answered. "Please." Kitty listened from deep inside in shocked horror.

Noonan looked up to the nightshift waitress. "Another beer, please?" This time, he sounded a little more sociable, so it didn't take long for another longneck to appear at the table they were sitting on. "You wanna glass with that, dear?" the lady asked.

Amelia shook her head. "Just the bottle, thanks." Once it had been opened, she took a frightening long sip. A full third of the contents vanished.

Noonan thought <Ah, that's Amelia... Not shying away from a drink> Evans thought <That's definitely not Kitty! She wouldn't touch alcohol with a ten-foot pole...>

Amelia finally set the bottle down and took a deep breath. "My mother hates when I do this," she said conversationally, then sighed. "Yeah, it hasn't been an.. auspicious... evening."

"I figured as much, or you wouldn't be here." Noonan mused. "Well, a small comfort, I haven't been having a lot of luck either. I've been trying to get that sodded weather measuring doohicky out of our aircraft for five hours straight now. And now that I finally managed it, the damn thing almost dropped onto my foot! I'm pretty sure it's misaligned completely now, or otherwise inoperable, so I don't think we'll have to worry about taking *that* one with us. So, what has you so upset today?"

"Oh, well..." She paused, not sure if she should say anything or not. Finally, she sighed and muttered it quietly. "Someone told my husband about how we were hugging each other near the Electra, and he got upset." She opened her mouth as if to say something further, then just closed it and glanced down into her bottle as if expecting to find something there.

"The bloody bastard... Couldn't keep to his damn self..." Evans muttered, glancing at something to the side, as if it was the guy.

"If I believed that, I'd feel better," she admitted quietly and still examining her bottle as if it might give her an answer.

"What do you mean? We were just friends supporting each other. What's that guy's business spreading all lies about us?" Noonan said, not really getting the hint.

"Was it a lie?" Amelia asked him, looking back up at his eyes, frowning.

"Well, yeah!... Whaddya mea... Eh, oh..." Noonan said, suddenly not so sure of himself, seeing Evans' point of view. "Aļ... Eh... I guess not excactly..." Then something else hit him. He had treated her exactly the same this midday, when she was going to go home. "OH, I'm so sorry..." he said with big eyes.

"It's not really your fault," she said honestly. "It isn't.. well... he knows we aren't Doing anything. But he... he wants the affection. And I realized... that though he was angry, he never shouted at me, and he didn't hit me. I didn't have to be afraid. That's... special." Amelia took another long sip and then thumped the tabletop. "I've been so stupid!"

"Afraid? Of what?" Noonan said, quirking one eyebrow. "Shout at you? Hit you? What are you talking about?! It IS the twentieth century, you know?"

"So?" Amelia retorted. "It doesn't mean we've cured all the problems in the world." Then she sighed and shook her head. "My father... well..." She ran her hand through her short hair a couple of times in mild consternation. "I hadn't ever thought I could find someone I could really, wholly trust."

"You ARE talking about your husband, right?" Noonan answered with a puzzled look on his face. "Because, you *know* you can trust *me*, right?"

Amelia looked back at him searchingly, then closed her eyes and lowered her head.

Noonan felt a stab of pain in his heart. <A simple 'yeah' had sufficed...> he thought, but he kept it to himself. Het put a hand on Amelia's shoulder, caressing it slightly. "You're making this all a lot harder than... Ah, who am I kidding..." he said.

"Do you know how to make it easier?" Amelia returned quietly, not looking up or opening her eyes.

Noonan thought for a little while, and couldn't come up with an answer. "Things will be simpler when we're finally airborne... I hope."

"I think they will be," she responded, then she opened her eyes and looked at him pleadingly. The expressions on her face now strongly resembled Kitty, though the look seemed somewhat strange on Amelia's features. "I thought I could make things better if I just tried. I only wanted to do what was right."

"Talk about being between a rock and a hard place..." Noonan sighed, not unlike Evans would do occasionally. "Would you... ehm... like another drink? Juice? Coffee? Another beer? A place to crash?"

"Well, I'll see what I can arrange with the quartermaster here. I'm sure there's a spare bunk somewhere." Noonan said as he got up, walking to the counter that also doubled as a reception for the airport's 'hotel'.

Amelia peered into the mostly-empty beer bottle again as she waited, then shook her head and pushed it to the other side of the table.

Noonan returned to the table, to find Amelia mostly asleep again. "Hey, wake up... There's a spare room in the airport hotel... Don't expect much, it's about 6 by 6 feet, shared accommodations and no kitchen, but at least you'll be able to get your feet up..."

"I don't really care," she said, rising to her feet. "Let's just finish getting ready as soon as we can and get back into the air." She was surprised to realize how tired she was. "Once I get a few hours of sleep."

"Yeah, let's do that..." Noonan added. "We can just make up some numbers out of thin air. Who needs instruments?" he joked.


Lt. Kathleen Black Chief Engineer Starbase Ronin .....or is it?

Lt. Jg. Ronald Evans Chief Operations Officer Starbase Ronin ...At least, somewhere in the background...