Disclaimer: See chapter 1.
Author's Note: Thanks to all of you who reviewed!
This is my very first try out of my safe harbor of CSI fanfiction. Feedback is very much appreciated and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to: Erica, my beta, for improving my writing. And Uriel for her Canada/Air Force knowledge.
The sergeant didn’t need to yell again as all the men, and Alex, did what he ordered. Lines of two were formed, and Alex found herself at the back. The young man next to her smiled, a look of recognition settling on his face as he noticed the dark-haired woman.
“Alex?” he whispered questioningly.
Alex faced him, curious to how this person knew her name.
“It’s me,” the guy started, “Toby. Toby LaFleche.”
Suddenly it dawned upon her. The short brown hair, those soft green eyes. Toby had lived on the same street for eight years, and they had been friends practically from the day they were born. Then his family had moved to the other side of the city, and their friendship disintegrated. She was sure she hadn’t seen him for more than ten years.
“Toby!” Alex almost screamed as she pulled an arm around the young man’s shoulder. Never had she expected to run into him, especially in this place. She knew him as a very calm and peaceful boy, never one to pick a fight, but walking past the school-bullies in a wide circle.
“SILENCE!” the sergeant thundered, looking towards the end of the line.
Alex quickly let go of Toby and both took their stance again, looking straight ahead -smiles on both their faces as they remembered the time spent together all those years ago.
“What are you doing here?” Toby whispered again.
The sergeant was about to speak up, and so Alex quickly replied, “Long story, I’ll tell you later on.”
Alex focused her attention to the sort man standing in front of them. It was deadly quiet when the bull-necked man not so kindly welcomed them and pointed towards a building to their left. There, the medical examinations would be done. Those who were found fit would then receive their uniforms and would be assigned to one of the barracks. Others that did not pass the tests would either be sent to other departments, or back home, depending on the ground of their rejection.
With one more yell from the sergeant they were sent off. Silence soon disappeared as excitement arose and conversation started up again. No longer needing to walk in pairs, Alex grabbed her duffle bag, slung it across her shoulder and walked over to Toby who was busy fixing the strap of his bag.
“Come on, Toby,” she said as she nudged his shoulder in passing. “Let’s pass these stupid tests and fly some planes, kill some of those bastards.”
The guy shot her a pained expression, then spoke up as he caught up with her, “I’d rather not pass these tests and go home.”
Alex stopped walking and turned to face him. “Then why are you here?”
“My father,” he replied.
Funny, Alex thought, how we’re both here ‘cause of our father.
Toby looked at the woman next to him. Though being a month older than her, she had always been the one looking after him. And still, after years of not having seen each other, their bond was still the same. To him, she was like the sister he never had.
“So he’s still the pushy man he was all those years ago?”
“Yeah,” Toby started. “He hasn’t changed a bit. He told me to get off of my lazy ass, get my nose out of my books and ‘do something for this world’. His words, not mine.”
“What would your choice have been?” Alex wondered.
“I would have stayed at home, studied to become a physics teacher, find myself a lovely lady to marry, settle down. You know, white picket fence and so on.”
“Oh really? And is there anyone in particular you’d like to settle down with?” she asked, nudging him in his stomach with her elbow.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he replied as he opened the door and let Alex enter.
“Next!” a voice yelled from somewhere.
“My turn,” Toby said, a rueful grin on his face. The room where they had all been waiting their turn was nearly empty. They had watched some walking past, out of the building. Some with happy looks on their faces, others looking not that happy –though all of them going back home.
“Well, maybe I’ll see you later,” he said as he shook Alex’s hand.
“Count on it,” she winked.
The young man reached for his bag and headed off to the where a man stood waiting, impatiently tapping his feet.
“Good luck,” she said as he started to walk off to a room in the back. Toby waved once then disappeared behind the man, into the room.
“Next!” another yell from another room.
Alex stood up, took in a big breath, and with confidence in her stride walked to the doorway. She was met with the sight of a gray-haired man, wearing a white lab-coat over his dark green jumpsuit, sitting behind a desk busy writing something in a file.
She walked into the room, closing the door behind her, and dropped her bag on the floor, looking at the man expectantly.
“Name?” he inquired without looking up from his writing. He closed the file he had been working, grabbed a new one from a large pile lying at his left, and started scribbling on it.
“Alex Savage,” the dark-haired woman answered.
Finally, the man looked up from his desk and noticed the young woman standing in the room, stretched out to her full height, arms folded behind her back –her stance that of an already trained and skilled member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Without saying a thing, but with a rather denigrating look on his face, he focused back on the paper in front of him.
“For an administrative function a medical examination isn’t necessary,” the man replied as he looked up, grabbed the piece of paper and reached it out for the dark-haired woman to grab.
“I’m not here for a desk job, Doctor …?” Alex looked at the man expectantly, not taking the proffered sheet.
“I want to fly, Doctor Young,” Alex said as she looked the man straight into his eyes, determination tangible in her voice. “I want to go overseas, fight among the Allies, fight for peace.”
The gray-haired man sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose then motioned for Alex to take a seat in the chair opposite him.
“You’re a woman. You…” But before he could utter his sentence Alex cut him off.
Her eyes narrowed as she heard the man’s so-called reason why she couldn’t be trained as a pilot. She hated the narrow mindset a lot of people still had regarding women.
“I’m as good as any man. Just give me the chance to prove myself.”
“Please, lady. I’ve had to do forty medical exams already, and in about half an hour a new load of possible recruits will be dropped of. Either go to the administration and apply for a job there or go home.” He again stretched out the sheet.
She angrily snatched it out of the doctor’s hands, grabbed her duffle bag and slung it over her shoulder, then left the room with fierce strides. Without giving notice to the people who passed her by in the halls of the building, she headed for the exit.
As she stepped outside into the fresh air she took in a deep breath, calming herself down. She couldn’t –or more precisely, wouldn’t go home. And so, she checked the paper and headed off for the administrative office.
That afternoon she was assigned to a secretary position, working for –of all people- Doctor Young.
Two days after Alex had arrived at the base, Andrew also came, and their argument started all over again.
Andrew had just come out of Doctor Young’s office, disappointed he was rejected due to his medical history, when he got a glimpse of a dark-haired person sitting behind a desk in the room adjacent to the examination room.
He stopped dead in his tracks, turned back and noticed the woman was his sister.
The young woman didn’t look up from the paperwork she was doing, already knowing whose voice it was that called out to her.
“Andrew,” she stated as she looked up.
“I told you you would end up behind a desk,” he said, his voice sounding smug. He leaned against the doorway, folding his arms in front of him.
“I see you were rejected?” she asked, completely ignoring his previous words. She had noticed he had received the same sheet of paper she had two days ago.
“Yes,” he started. “That guy thinks that flying might trigger those black outs, so he offered me a desk job or I could just go home. I’m not staying here any longer, I promised Claire that if I was rejected I would come back home.”
“Good,” Alex started. “You should be at home, with your fiancé.”
“I want you to come along, Alex. Claire and I talked about this. Our old house is up for sale, and we’ve already made the first down-payment on our own house, it’s just a few blocks away from-” But before he could finish his sentence Alex interrupted.
“My mind’s made up, Andrew,” she stated as she stood up from her chair and walked over to where her brother was standing, stopping right in front of him.
“Alex, please. You don’t need to do this stupid job, just come back with me. We’ll find you a suitable job there…”
“No.” She stared straight into his eyes, not ready to give up on it all.
“Then you’re no longer welcome at my house, I withdraw my invitation. You’re on your own now!” he said, anger and frustration seeping out of every word he uttered.
“I’m sorry, Andrew,” the young woman stated. “I’m sorry you can’t see the things the way I do.”
That was the last straw. Before she even knew what happened she suddenly felt a stinging and burning sensation across her cheek. Her hand shot up, fiercely rubbing at the now reddening mark.
Andrew’s eyes shot open. Shocked of his own actions he stumbled back a bit, all the while stuttering his apology.
“I’m sorry, Alex. I didn’t mean to-”
“Get out!” she yelled.
“Please, Al-” the tall man tried again, but before he could finish his sentence Alex pushed him out of the small room and closed the door, then leaned back against it and sank to the floor –head in her hands, tears silently flowing from her dark eyes.
This probably had been the last time she would see her brother.
Since that day, Alex had been in a bad mood. She was stuck. No way forward to reaching her goal –flying, but certainly no way back home, Andrew had made that completely clear.
The next day she was seated in the mess hall, when she saw Toby the first time in those three days they’d both been at the Air Force base. She had seen him enter with a couple of guys and after he had picked up his plate of food he spotted her and headed over, smiling all the way to where Alex was seated.
“Hey Alex,” he greeted as he sat himself down opposite the dark-haired woman. His smile disappeared quickly as he saw the look on the dark-haired woman’s face.
“Hi,” she muttered as she picked at her food.
“I thought I saw Andrew here yesterday?” he asked, carefully trying to find out what was bothering his friend.
“He was,” Alex replied shortly.
“Didn’t get through medical exams? Is that why you’re so grumpy?” he tried, hoping to lighten up her mood.
“No, he didn’t, and no, that’s not the reason.”
He raised an eyebrow, wordlessly urging her to explain.
“He asked –well, more like ordered me to leave my job here and go back home to him and his fiancé.”
“And you declined,” Toby said –more a statement than a question.
Alex nodded, her long, black hair falling in front of her eyes. As she pushed a lock behind her ear and looked up she was met with two surprised-looking eyes intently staring at her right cheek.
“He left me a farewell gift,” she said, a small, rueful smile on her lips.
Toby reached across the table and took Alex’ hand.
“I’m sorry he did that to you,” he started. “This is your life, your decision. Trust me when I say I know how important it is to be able to make your own decisions. I still regret my being here,” he said.
Alex squeezed the blonde man’s hand. “I know, but from what I’ve heard you’re going to be one heck of a pilot. How many flight-hours have you already had?”
“Fifteen,” he stated proudly.
“In the three days we’ve been here?”
“Wow, that’s really good. How many more until you’re sent overseas?” Alex inquired.
“Probably another thirty or so. Sergeant Greenaway says I have a talent for flying a plane. He said I’ll be ready sooner than the average cadet.”
“That’s great,” Alex said sincerely as she gave her friends hand one last squeeze before releasing it.
“Oh, by the way,” Toby started as he reached for something in the back pocket of his jumpsuit. He handed her some papers. As she enfolded them she noticed they were notes from technical lessons Toby had had the past few days.
She looked up at her friend, a small smile coming onto her lips.
“That’s all we’ve learned so far. All the technical details of flying a plane. Thought you’d want them too,” he smirked.
“Thank you, Toby,” she said –touched by the young man’s thoughtfulness.
As eager as she was she immediately started to study the given sheets –her food quickly shoved aside and long forgotten.
She was completely absorbed in the part on radio communication, and didn’t notice someone walking up behind her. She finally looked up as she heard a throat being cleared and saw Toby looking behind her. So, she turned as well.
“Doctor Young,” Alex nodded.
“What have you got there?” the gray-haired man inquired.
She noticed him looking at the papers lying on the table. “Oh, nothing,” she replied and quickly gathered the sheets and put them in her pocket, hoping he wouldn’t ask on about it.
Fortunately the doctor didn’t, merely nodded his goodbye to the both of them, and continued to the exit of the mess-hall.
After both Toby and she had finished their lunch, they headed out of the mess-hall as well, each going their separate ways after promising to look for each other at diner.
Alex was walking through the halls, thinking about the papers in her pocket. She was so glad Toby had given them for her to study. This opportunity she would not pass by –she knew this was a chance to reach her actual goal.
And so the studying started.
To be continued.
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