ashmusing: (Default)
Ash ([personal profile] ashmusing) wrote2011-06-14 03:48 pm

Speak, Friend, and Enter: No War Here

TITLE: Speak, Friend, and Enter: Chapter Five: No War Here
FANDOM: James Cameron's Avatar
CHARACTERS: Norm Spellman, Trudy Chacon, OC
WORDS: 3169
A/N: Massive thanks to ceitfianna for beta-ing. While the concept of Romeo and Juliet as Velociraptors is my own, the 'two species, both alike in carnivorisity' bit came from the brain of lordoflorien.
STORY SUMMARY: Information Technician Norm Spellman first met Lance Corporal Trudy Chacon in on a ship in 2134. Twenty years later, Doctor Spellman and Captain Chacon (long-time friends and sometime lovers) are reunited on Pandora. This follows the time between, and what happens after.
CHAPTER EXTRACT: “Romeo and Juliet as...Velociraptors.”

“Wait, what?” Trudy says, laughing as she twists around in her seat. “Oh, man, seriously?”

“No, no, it works, see? 'Two species, both alike in carnivorisity-”

“Norm! No, stop it,” she says, pressing her hands to her eyes as she laughs. But Norm is on a roll – and he loves the way she laughs.

“-in fair dystopia where we lay our scene. From ancient blood re-fused to new...mutant-y.” Okay, so, the roll rapidly rolled out.

V: No War Here

Norm wakes up in an unfamiliar bed that isn't moving. It doesn't smell like the Providence, either. It smells like land, and city, and sex, all of which make sense. He's missing a Marine out of the picture, but that's okay. Gives him time to get his bearings.

The time on the clock says six twenty-four, which means he got maybe five hours sleep, give or take. He can function easily on that.

Despite himself, his eyes drift towards the other bed. The bed that's been stripped of blankets and sheets and pillow, waiting for another occupant to come and make it. And there'd been another occupant – Trudy is only a lance-corporal, and according to the bitching he's overheard, the Marines don't get to sleep by themselves until they are corporals. And she'd mentioned a room-mate, but...

Norm lets his eyes roam around the room. Last night, he hadn't really paid attention, because there had been Trudy and the other bed, the one he's lying in, and Trudy, and this room really is bare. Two beds, two closets, two bedstands with a clock on each, two metal boxes at the base of the beds, two desks. One window, one small TV. Nothing on the walls. Nothing on most of the walls, he corrects himself; one of the walls has some posters and a board on it, and that's where all the pictures are pinned.

He gets out of Trudy's bed, finds his underwear and pants, and pulls them on before walking over to the board. There is Trudy, with friends and family, sometimes with her hair in a crew-cut and others with her hair a of black curls around her shoulders. Trudy with a motorbike, Trudy with a chopper so she hadn't been lying about that (not that he thought she was, but still, confirmation). And there is the other girl – the missing room-mate, he deduces. Brown hair, olive skin, slanted green eyes, a smile with a crooked front tooth. The centre picture is of the girl with Trudy, their arms around each other's shoulders and grinning for the . Most of the pictures of the brown-haired girl have been taken down, stacked in a pile on the desk.

Don't have to worry about her,” Trudy had said.

Which meant, now that Norm could think clearly, that the Marine was probably dead.

He hears the door close and whirls around. Fortunately, it's Trudy who smiles at him, not an NCO or an officer springing a surprise inspection. She's dressed for running – tank, shorts, sneakers – and from the sweat-stains, she's been doing exactly that.

“Hey. Sorry, did I scare ya?”

“No. A little.”

Her smile turns crooked and fond. “Okay,” she says. “Um, I...need to grab a shower, and then we can get outta here. Can't offer you one, though. If you don't, um. Mind?”

“It's fine,” Norm says. He's used to living on a ship by now, and before that the water-shortages of the civilian world, and he really does need some time to get the idea of Trudy wet and naked out of his head. They did that. Only not in the shower, because no one can afford sex in the shower unless they are obscenely rich. He means the naked and sex part. Which he is not thinking about because he is remembering it all too well, and that could be very embarrassing.

By the time she comes back – less than ten minutes – he's dressed and ready to go. Which only means, of course, leaving a Marine Corps base. Full of Marines. While he's in his Navy uniform.

Not a problem.

– –

“Well, well, well, Chacon, slumming it a little, ain't ya?” The Marine leaning in the doorway of one of the barracks rooms easily has a couple inches on Norm, which is as disconcerting as it is unusual.

“Yeah, says the guy who was bangin' one of the Air Force techs, Wills,” Trudy says with a smirk, casually flipping 'Wills' the bird.

“Hey, I didn't bring him here.”

“Because you're a coward,” Trudy retorts, as someone from another doorway goes 'ooooh'. “Air Force.”

Navy.” Then Wills rolls his eyes, dismisses them both with a flick of his hand as he steps back into his room and shuts the door.

“Oh, I remember you.” That's the guy who said 'oooh' before.

“Yes,” Norm says, carefully. “You pointed a gun at me.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry, man,” Geary says with an easy-going smile. “It happens, you know?”

“Yeah,” Trudy says, mouth pulling to the side. “Next time it happens, I'm kicking your ass. No shooting prospective pieces of ass, okay?”

“Hey, I didn't know,” Geary says, moving out of his room to walk beside Trudy. Like most of the Marines, he's dressed in an olive-green shirt with shorts, which means Trudy in her blue and black sleeveless top stands out. Norm doesn't really want to stand out, but if Trudy is bothered, she's not showing at all. Probably not bothered, he guesses.

“Yeah, whatever, bro,” Trudy says, and then – well, Norm doesn't quite know what happens. He thinks Geary feinted at Trudy, and Trudy grabbed his wrist, but he isn't sure. What he does know is the result. After some scuffling that he would have characterised as serious fighting before being stuck on a ship with a battalion (or more) of Marines, Geary ends up on the floor with Trudy twisting his arm in the air while kneeling on his back.

“You're an idiot, Geary,” Trudy says, easing off him with a laugh. Yep, normal Marine behaviour, friendship-affirming and pecking order re-established.

At least they didn't use knives, he mentally adds.

“Guilty as charged,” Geary says cheerfully, picking himself up and rotating his shoulder. “Hey, you have fun.”

“Planning on it! Hey, Kennedy.”

“Morning,” the black girl mutters as she dodges Norm and Trudy and dives into a room.

“Home sweet home,” Trudy says, and grabs Norm's hand as she leads him out.

“Always like this?”

“Oh, usually we're worse,” she says cheerfully.

– –

It's while they are grabbing breakfast at the train-station arcade (having successfully left Camp Pendleton with nothing worse than a few smirks and comments) that Norm notices the movie poster.

Romeo and Juliet as...Velociraptors.”

“Wait, what?” Trudy says, laughing as she twists around in her seat. “Oh, man, seriously?”

“No, no, it works, see? 'Two species, both alike in carnivorisity-”

“Norm! No, stop it,” she says, pressing her hands to her eyes as she laughs. But Norm is on a roll – and he loves the way she laughs.

“-in fair dystopia where we lay our scene. From ancient blood re-fused to new...mutant-y.” Okay, so, the roll rapidly rolled out.

“Mutant-y? Mutant-y?” Trudy manages to swallow her laughter to a giggle.“You do realise we have to see this now, right?”

He grins back at her. “Absolutely.”

– –

It's a surreal, whimsical movie, with rather more thought put into it than its premise would initially suggest. It also doesn't pull its punches as far as the emotional underpinning is considered, and the dying Mercutio's scream of 'a plague on both your houses!' echoes through a theatre holding its collective breath. In the silence, he can just hear Trudy draw in a shaky breath and let it out, more shaky. Glancing at her, her eyes are close, hands in fists.

“You okay?” he asks, leaning over to say it directly in her ear.

“'m fine,” she says. He doesn't quite believe her, but Trudy flashes him a smile. Not too much later, he hears her laugh softly, but once the movie is over and the lights are slowing returning, it's easy to see the tracks of tears down her face.


“I...just need to get away from the crowd.”

He hesitates, and then nods. “Okay, weren't there some balconies around the foyer?”

“Perfect. Good.” She takes a deep breath, waits for the crowd to thin out (and she's nervous, off-balance enough, that he doesn't know if he should say anything, so he doesn't), and then very carefully gets up and walks out. He follows, careful not to crowd her.

They go up another story of the theatre complex, and she walks over to the corner of the balcony, right where to narrows to nothing around the curve of the wall. The balcony overlooks the foyer, and still has an excellent view through the giant glass window that marks the entrance of the building. Through glass is the glory of the urbanised area, buildings shining in what sun manages to penetrate the clouds, the bustle of tiny people moving about the various levels of causeways above the ground streets, construction work with cranes and AMP suits. Even some off in the distance.

Trudy sits down on the carpet, curling up in the corner of the balcony and folds her arms against the railing. For a long moment, she just leans forward with her head resting on her arms, breathing all too steadily. And Norm just keeps the silence, sitting a little distance from her in case she needs to the space. Sometimes, he watches the view; mostly, he keeps an eye on her.

“I'm not okay,” Trudy says at last, still not looking at him.

“I guessed.” He forces his hands to remain still on his knees. “Your room-mate?”

“Hel-V. Helga Vimoto, so, you know. Hel, and then a 'V'. She's dead.” Trudy twists her head to face him, gives him a tight smile as she leans back against the wall. “Bullet hit her pelvis, just...just below her armour. We were pinned down, couldn't get a medevac. Bled out. She just...” Trudy's hand briefly moves through the air before falling down. “Bled out. Nothin' we could do. The report said she died well.”

“Do they normally say that?” he asks quietly. He has a moment to kick himself over voicing the cynicism before her smile flashes to something real.

“Yeah.” Then her mouth just twists. “But I mean, what the fuck is dying well. She was pissed off. Scared and in pain and pissed off.” Roughly, Trudy knuckles her eyes, pressing her hands against them in effort to stop them crying. “Like Mercutio, you know. That's what set me off. Which makes no fucking sense, I'm fine with goddamn Boromir turning into a pin-cushion, but a dinosaur dies and I go to pieces.”

“You seem to be holding yourself together pretty well to me,” he says, and she glances at him sharply before sighing.

“Yeah, I don't...”

“Hey,” Norm says, reaching out to run his hand gently down her arm. She smiles slightly, and then leans over to kiss him.

“I'll...I'll be okay,” she says. “Just hits me, sometimes. Which is damn annoying,” she adds with a watery laugh, “because I was actually enjoying that movie. Ah, fuck.” She presses her palms to her eyes, takes in a few deep breaths.

He watches her for a moment, and then reaches up to run his hand down her arm again. “Need somewhere quiet?”


“Well, if you're up to going to San Diego, I hear the main library there is pretty cool.”

Trudy grins at him, a weak version of her normal delighted expression but close enough that he smiles back.

“Yeah. I think a library sounds awesome right about now.”

– –

The that they go to is situated right in the heart of the old city, a building constructed around a hundred years ago with all the wide-open spaces that went with the architecture back then. There is even a courtyard in the middle, with a glass roof, couches, and plants. It's there that they end up, although 'end up' implies a certain lack of direction on their part. More accurately, it's where Trudy makes a beeline for once she has a book in hand while he heads off to the computers for a couple of hours before joining her.

He knows what this is – a fling while they are both on shore – and knows that that is why they tumbled into bed so quickly, but still, space is wonderful. Space, and quiet, is also a damn luxury now, and he fully intends on enjoying it.

“Hey,” Norm says once he joins Trudy on the couch she's claimed.

“Hey yourself,” she says, grinning at him with no trace of her earlier grief.

“Got a message from Chang,” he says, moving her feet so he can sit down. Her feet move straight back onto his lap with all the casual possessiveness of a cat (this is my couch, but you may be allowed to share).

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah, bunch of us from the Prov are gathering at a bar later.”


“Want to join in?”

Trudy pauses, glances over the top of her book (title in Spanish, a steampunk-style airship with sails on the cover). “You're not sick of me yet?”

“Not even slightly,” he says with a quick grin. She grins back.

“Sure thing, you got yourself a date.”

– –

“OI, SPELLMAN, OVER HERE!” Chang calls out over the crowded bar, and Trudy and Norm navigate their way across to the table where the Providence's techs have set up.

“Marines allowed, or this a Navy-only corner?” Trudy asks, and Chang makes a show of sighing.

“We'll make an exception in your case.”

“Charmed,” Trudy says, and promptly claims Norm's lap as a chair. Hell if he's going to complain. But before they can get comfortable, Chang continues.

“As long as you get the drinks,” he says, with a wicked grin.

“Hah! Knew it,” Trudy laughs, jumping back up again. While she's gone, Chang leans forward.

“Please, please tell me that you've been banging her, Spellman. Please. It'd be such a waste if you haven't been.”

Norm eyes him, and grins. Watson whistles appreciatively, prompting a, “We've been doing other things, too.”

“Sure,” Watson says, rolling her eyes. “At least someone is getting some.”

“...if you decide to live vicariously through me, I'm going to be really disturbed over here,” Norm says, slowly, and the group of them just laugh. As the time passes, Norm ends up half-listening to the group, and half watching the crowd. Most of the clientele seem to be military – lots of uniforms, lots of crew-cuts. For the first time since leaving the Providence, Norm fits right in, which amuses him maybe more than it should. The crowd, too, is full of people laughing and drinking and dancing and determined to enjoy themselves after a tour, or during a tour, or before a tour. There is something greedy about them, he realises, and when Trudy gets up and dives off into crowd to dance, he also realises that she's got the same air about her. That greediness, but he doesn't think it's a bad thing, exactly. It's just that Trudy, and the others, are too aware of their own mortality not to want to grab life and dance with it.

How, though, Trudy manages to drag him onto the dance-floor, Norm doesn't think he'll ever understand.

– –

This time they end up in a hotel, a fact they take advantage of. Hotels mean bigger beds, and normally far more comfortable beds than the military-issue beds of a barracks at that. He's drunk just enough that his inhibitions are lowered, so that when she grabs his shirt and pulls him closer, he just kisses her back without over-thinking it. Without over-thinking it too much: greedy kisses, matching the heightened lust for life he'd noted earlier. But mostly, he just concentrates on what he can do so that Trudy makes that sound again, on what makes her dig her blunt nails in his shoulder and pull him closer, closer, closer.

– –

“I was thinking,” Trudy says in the morning. They are sprawled out over the bed at the shockingly decadent hour of seven in the morning, and he's tracing the tattoo down her spine. Her battalion's motto, 'second to none', written in graceful capital letters from the nape of her neck down to below her hips. She has another tattoo, too, a yellow seahorse banded with white and orange above her right ankle. He hasn't gotten around to asking her what it means.

“Always dangerous, but sure?”

She wriggles just enough to be able to throw a pillow at him. “Idiot,” she says, affectionately. “What I was thinking was I'm headin' back up to New Jersey in a couple of days, you know, spend time with the family before I'm back on duty. And, uh, I know you're back on your ship, but I was you want keep in touch? Just, you know, over email. As friends.”

Friends gets a bit of a twist, because he wants...he wants more than that. But he's also practical enough to appreciate the offer for what it is.

“Works for me. Although, you know, the delay time between emails might be impressive.”

“Eh, duty is duty,” Trudy says, and then pushes herself up in order to kiss him. “I'll email you when I get a chance, once I work out which of mine is still working, okay?”

“...that will be fun,” he says, tone wry.

“Yeah, tell me about.” Another kiss, and this time, he kisses her back, his hands sliding down her body to rest on her hips.

Right. Yes. Friends, when the girl can make him stupid with lust. But she also geeks out about Lord of the Rings and dwarves and , and Norm thinks that it's worth a shot.

– –

Back on the Providence, it takes Norm another two days to find the time to check his personal email. He also spent those two days alternating between wanting to read her email in order to keep in touch, and a certainty that she'd have forgotten, or changed her mind, or-

What he finds, when he finally opens his email, is the following message:

to: “Seaman Norman V. Spellman” nvspellman33 @ usn. us. gov
from: “TMC” escolasticademoira @ cibertejido . com
subject: IS TRUDY!

Hey Norm!

Just making sure this is the right address – if so, THEN I'll babble at you! While we have time anyway. And I forgot my password for my USMC email, hope the civvie one gets through.

And hope the computers aren't still giving you a hard time!

– Trudy

Norm grins, and starts typing his reply.