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Ash ([personal profile] ashmusing) wrote2011-05-11 09:53 am
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FIC: The Things They Carried

TITLE: The Things They Carried
FANDOM: James Cameron's Avatar
CHARACTERS: Grace Augustine, Parker Selfridge, Max Patel, Trudy Chacon, Norm Spellman, Jake Sully, Miles Quaritch, Lyle Wainfleet
WORDS: 1,237
A/N: Massive thanks to lordoflorien for beta-ing. Inspired by Tim O'Brien's novel of the same name.
STORY SUMMARY: What the humans carried with them on Pandora, an ensemble characterstudy set during canon.
EXTRACT: Trudy carries her faith at the hollow of her throat, on a small gold locket with a small black cross on the front and the Lord's Prayer in Spanish on the back.

The Things They Carried

Selfridge carries the weight of his unofficial exile mostly with resignation, but sometimes with ambition and sometimes with a biting, impatient kind of black humour. He didn't choose to come here, because who in their right mind would? (Most of Hell's Gate's population, according to their files, which just further confirms his theory that everyone else here is completely insane.) He's determined to do his best, even though he carries with him the knowledge that he's the wrong person for the job – too by-the-book, too used to dealing with people who think in ways he can understand, too aware of the fact that he's in the middle of freaking nowhere. He hides the knowledge of this by carrying an air of competency and drive, which some days works better than others. He carries in his mind codes and procedures and information about everyone who works at Hell's Gate because it's his job and information reassures him, and he carries statistics and percentages and the ability to calculate worth to three decimal places because he's an accountant at heart. But underneath it all, Selfridge carries the sneaking suspicion that everyone is just letting him have his illusion of control.

Grace carries a tattoo on her arm that she refuses to explain, mostly because it entertains her not to. It could be a symbol of Agni, the fire of creation (Max's suggestion), it could be a lotus flower (Louise), or even a cannabis leaf (Trudy, being only slightly tongue-in-cheek). She carries nothing else from Earth; even her Stanford shirt for her Avatar was made on Pandora, and this pleases her. In truth, Grace also carries the white liberal guilt of her upbringing and education, and a host of prejudices and neuroses she just can't leave behind. Of course, to actively realise this would be to devote energy to understanding her own thought patterns, which Grace considers a waste of valuable time. She carries her chosen mission in life much like she carries her lab-coat, with flare and just enough arrogant superiority that she's rarely questioned. She carries two Na'vi-made necklaces, one for human form and one for her Avatar self, and with the necklaces she carries the protection her former students wanted her to have. She carries her love for the land and its people as openly as her confidence, and sometimes she carries her hurt in the same way.

Max carries the following: two pens of differing colours, one paper notepad, one e-pad, his identity card, a fascination for finding answers, and the firm knowledge that without him, Augustine wouldn't have a department to be the head of. He also carries a hipflask that is always empty, mostly to remind himself that he hasn’t reached the point where he needs to fill it. Yet.

Norm carries an old leather satchel that used to belong to his father and a book on evolutionary biology written by his mother. He carries the mixed cynicism and enthusiasm of a person who has studied humanity more than lived it, but it's the enthusiasm that comes shining forth. He carries himself with confidence because he knows exactly who he is, and because he's too full of ideas and wonder about everything not to. Norm also carries himself with confidence because he's six foot two and fit, with quick reflexes and an excellent spatial awareness, and frankly he can handle himself just fine.

Jake carries the memory of his brother, and the knowledge that he'll never be like him. He carries other memories, too, of those he killed and of those he failed to save. Mostly he carries memories of the dead, because he has a hard time remembering the living he left behind. He carries an USMC t-shirt because it still fits, and at the bottom of his bag he carries his shot glass from when his company all got a set. He wears a tribal tattoo that means nothing on one arm and 'Born Loser' on the other, which seems to mean far too much. But in the jungle, Jake carries other things. He carries a knife made from resin, a bow he must fire from his left hand. He carries the intricate necklaces and protective armbands of a culture he doesn't know, given by a people who feel like home, and he doesn't like to think about why he feels odd when he wakes up in just his human clothes.

Trudy carries her faith at the hollow of her throat, on a small gold locket with a small black cross on the front and the Lord's Prayer in Spanish on the back. She wears another necklace, too, only this chain is an amalgamation of others. On this much longer necklace she carries a shell she picked up in Kuwait, a bone bead her grandmother gave her for luck, and a silver wing her father bought her when she first got her pilot's license. As a further reminder of where she's come from, Trudy carries the emblems of every unit she's ever been in under her clothes, permanently etched into her skin by the tattooist's needle. In memoriam of her current posting, she has the words 'welcome to pandora' curved on the back of her hip, right where her belt is. 'Welcome to Pandora', because that's what the Marines say when anything is crazy, or fucked up, or (frequently) both. She carries a gun because she has to, and it'd be stupid not to. But sometimes, Trudy thinks that she carries a gun because she's been a warrior for so long she doesn't know how to put it down.

Wainfleet carries a picture of his twin daughters and the knowledge that every day he spends alive on Pandora is another day he's getting paid, which means another day's worth of income put towards making his girls' future being better than his. He carries the grinning skull and motto of his old USMC battalion with pride on his left shoulder, and he carries a working-class infantryman's well-honed contempt for his superiors (excepting la Capitán and the Colonel). He never leaves the SecOps barracks without carrying his black armband, because as everyone knows it's freaking bad luck not to, and you need all the luck you can get at this posting. He also never leaves the barracks without carrying his (formerly) regulation handgun and extra (hollow pointed) ammo, because after spending the night out in the jungle in the wreckage of a Samson with Chacon, Wainfleet carries a healthy respect for all the ways that Pandora wants to kill him.

Quaritch carries his scars with a pride that only warriors understand. He carries a faded bald eagle tattoo on his right arm above his elbow, and on his left hand he carries the snake ring of the United States Naval Academy's graduating class of 2110. He carries the authority of his command as easily as his gun, and he carries the loneliness of it in the same way. He carries the knowledge that soldiering is about fighting, about killing the other guy before he kills you, and that getting the job done means getting your hands dirty. He carries a certain dark relish for violence and mayhem, and enough professionalism to mostly keep it under control. Quaritch carries the responsibility for the lives of everyone who lives at Hell's Gate, and he carries their injuries and deaths because he doesn't know how not to.