Friday, September 9, 2011

Long Walk

“I’m really sorry about that. He didn’t mean anything by it.” Peter had been the first to return and looked like he was afraid Jason had caused some kind of intersteller incident.

“Do not worry, I have taken no offence.” She smiled and shook her head. “The young are often very excitable and not aware of how their actions could be taken by others.”

“Good, I’m glad.” Peter laughed, visibly relieved. He looked up at Alex and then back at Carbon. “Any thoughts on dinner?”

Carbon shook her head. “I will let Alex speak for me, I do not know this area- or this family, well enough.”

Alex mulled over what he had successfully fed Carbon with what was nearby. He was secure in the knowledge that family would eat just about anything. “Thai?”

“Dad doesn’t like Thai after the water bug incident.”

Alex had forgotten about that, but he had been off planet at the time. Tslao cuisine would be a hard sell. “Oh yeah. Chinese?”

“Probable. Golden Dragon?”

“Sounds good.”

“I’ll call and see if one of the private rooms is available.”

Carbon watched Peter go, turning back to Alex. “Chinese? Have I had that yet?”

“No, but it’s similar to Thai. You should like it. Do you think you’ll have any problems with family style dining? We’d get several dishes and everyone would take servings from them.”

“I think I will be fine with that.” Carbon made a face. “There will be utensils for serving?”


“That should be fine.”

Pete popped his head back in to the living room. “No go on Golden Dragon but Mandarin Palace is expecting us in 30 minutes.”

“They’re better anyway.” He held a hand out to Carbon, helping her up off the couch. She pulled him close and slid her arms around his waist, giving him a squeeze and a gentle kiss, a sublime smile on her lips.

They all gathered in the foyer and quickly spilled out into the wide hallway, Alex’s father double checking the door like he always does.

Jason approached Carbon carefully, eyes wide and gripping his mother’s hand tightly. When he spoke, it was just above a whisper. “Are you really an alien?”

Carbon nodded as they started to walk towards the funicular, a grin forming as she thought about her reply. “As it is, I am an alien.”

“Really?” His voice went up an octave, somehow incredulous.

That seemed to delight her to no end. “Really.”

“From space?”

She considered that for a moment. “I was not born in space. But I did travel through it to get here.”

Alex noticed Peter trying to get his attention and he jerked his head once Alex noticed him. It only took a moment for Alex to catch up to him at the front of their little group. “What’s up?”

Peter kept his voice low. “Just as a warning, Golden Dragon does not want Tslao around. When I asked if there were any problems with Carbon, he sounded like I asked if I could take a shit in their kitchen.”

He shrugged. “Well, I wasn’t expecting a warm welcome everywhere. Palace is fine with her, though?”

“As long as we stay in the private room. They were pretty cool but weren’t sure how the other patrons would react.”

“Fair enough.” He looked over his shoulder at Carbon, still talking to a much more animated Jason. The Berkley arcology was pretty progressive, but most people there still probably hadn’t seen an alien in person before. He was sure that most adults could keep a lid on any reaction well enough.

It didn’t take long for him to noticed that Pete looked unreasonably smarmy. “What?”

“Just thinking about something.”

“And that would be?”

Peter rapidly developed a solid ‘I know something about you’ smugness about him. “How unsurprising this development is.”

“Do you care to qualify that statement?” His words may have come out quieter and much more threatening than he had intended.

“Whoa, hey, back it up. Just an interesting observation here.”

Alex was momentarily surprised to find that he had been getting ready to get into an actual, physical fight with his brother. They were about the same height and build, but the training Alex had gone through in the CPP would make a significant difference. He took a breath and calmed himself down. “Sorry. It’s been crazy for the last... a long time. I was kind of cued up on the way down here, too. Wasn’t hoping for a fight, but I was kind of expecting one.”


“So, what’s your observation?”

Peter chuckled. “You’ve never dated anyone from Earth. As a matter of fact, the older you get, the further from Sol they get.”


“Not a one from your home planet. At least, none of the girls you’ve told any of us about.” Peter had gotten his smug grin back.

“No.” He checked over his shoulder again, not particularly inclined to talk about his ex’s in front of his wife. “Really? What about... Oh, she was born in Venus dome.”

“Uh-huh. Jeni from the mining colony, Claire from Phobos, Karen from Mars and then, ah...”

“Lynne from JRS-4.” They stopped in front of the funicular, a bank of doors displaying the down arrow and countdown timer. Just 34 seconds to go. “I did not know that about myself.”

“Did not know what?” Carbon appeared at his side, Jason’s hand gripping her fingers tightly as he waved at his father.

Alex managed a reasonable poker face and his brain stalled as he tried to figure out what to say. “Oh, just weird... coincidences in my past.”

“I always like hearing about your past, it is often fascinating.” She smiled like she knew he was avoiding something and her eyes narrowed slightly. A chime sounded, announcing the arrival of the funicular car. The doors open and Jason started to tow her along behind him. “Perhaps you can tell me about it later.”

Peter leaned in. “They were always kind of short, too.”


  1. I'm probably just projecting but the first half of this totally reminds me of when I first came out here and interacted with your family/foods from other lands.

    Also: Funicular! Yay!

  2. I love the familial interaction, and this allows us to get a different perspective on Alex. I hope there will be a chapter like this about Carbon.

    Just a suggestion, but I think it would be nice if Alex and Carbon were to share a little hug when he helps her off the sofa, maybe a furry head in his chest and a purr or something. It just feels right to me, if I'm not being intrusive.

  3. It appears that Carbon is indeed Alex's type. Almost as if they were made for each other. Now I have major speculations about the artifact.

  4. Nikoda: Write what you know! The situations are not entirely dissimilar, though.

    Tummy: I'm already thinking about that, but it's going to be hard to do for Carbon. Suggestion: stolen.

    Archnemesis: Speculation is always encouraged!