Time: Shortly after Potato Surprise
Place: Interstellar Enforcement HQ
Parallax to CC1 in thirty. Parallax to CC1.
Julian's eyes snapped open and he glared at his comm on the side table. Convalescing was supposed to mean convalescing, and yes he was a little bored, but it shouldn't mean a call summoning him to the director's office.
"Oh, what now?"
He stifled a groan as he rolled up from his comfy spot curled up on his sofa. It was a dangerously cushy sofa, he'd been planning on spending the morning there, and it was his. IE provided quarters to agents in the annex beside HQ, and they weren't bad, small flats with their own kitchens, but everything contained therein was Julian's. His one little corner of the galaxy where he allowed himself nostalgia and sentiment tied up in the possession of things.
Annoying, this summons. Though thirty minutes was better than immediately. "At least they cut me some slack for being semi-mobile."
Julian debated staying in his pajama pants and T-shirt, heaving a put-upon sigh when he concluded that might be a bit much for the administrative offices. He still needed both arm crutches to get around while his legs slowly remembered how to interact with his central nervous system, so he kept wardrobe choices simple—soft micro-cotton pants and a not-too-casual placketed shirt.
Normally, he would've jogged over to admin. Jogging, along with many other activities-while-vertical, simply wasn't happening yet. He took one of the trams and tried to ignore the speculative stares. It was a short five minute ride, five minutes feeling like a bug trapped under a scope.
"Julian." The director smiled as Julian entered the office. "Have a seat."
"So that's how it is." Julian managed a weary smile in response as he lowered himself gingerly into one of the office chairs in front of the desk.
"How what is?" The director set a coffee mug on the desk within Julian's reach and that sealed it.
"First name. Getting me to sit—"
"You are still on medical. Barely on your feet."
"Sir, you know better. I don't need buttering. Besides, butter's fun only until it starts to smell off." Julian accepted the coffee anyway. It was better than the stuff he had in his quarters. "What do you need from me?"
The fake smile abandoned the director's face. "I need you to teach."
"Sir, we've been through this m—"
He held up a hand, cutting Julian off. "Not permanently. Just while you're recovering. And not a class. A single student."
Julian sipped, put the coffee down, and sighed. "I see. Problem student."
The director waggled a hand back and forth. "In a way. Promising student who's reached weapons phase training and is suddenly exhibiting disrespectful and disruptive behavior."
"Ah." Julian didn't even try to hide the smile. I remember being that age and at that point. Though he wondered if this youngster had started as young as he had.
"I've sent you the file." The director stood. Apparently the schmoozing was at an end. "Do your best with this one. There are some students we can't afford to lose."
Julian read the file on his comm before making his way toward the ranges. Of course he did. A lifetime of habit, going into a situation as prepared as possible. His potential student occupied one of the debrief rooms outside the range proper. Julian hit the door pad, frowned at the young person fidgeting at the table, and re-checked the name on the file. Kenneth Hayes. Perhaps, though his gut told him this youngster didn’t go by Kenneth.
"Who're you?" Surly, suspicious, oh yes, that was the right age.
"Agent Julian Parallax. I'm looking for someone I'm supposed to be teaching, but I may have taken a wrong turn. Hayes?"
Possible-student rolled dark eyes. "It's Kendra, not Kennett. I guess you're not going to bother to get it right either."
Julian's frown deepened. This explained more of the reported attitude than is just being the age of adults-are-stupid. "It should've been changed and that's unconscionably rude if one of your instructors is deadnaming."
"Whatever. Like you give a spacer rat's ass." Kendra leaned back in her chair, arms folded over her chest. "What're you supposed to be teaching me, gimpy?"
"I see." Julian nodded at her look of irritated confusion and moved to a spot where he could ease into the chair opposite. "This is the part where I'm terribly offended and tell you to be respectful and you escalate the rudeness until I stomp out. Maybe we'll save that for another day. I'm too tired."
She was still glaring, so he had her attention.
"Two things I want to say before we talk about training. One, the crutches aren't permanent. My vehicle was blown out from under me while I was helping a demon deliver gen-modified bugs. And two, grownups used to tell me that my name was Julia."
The first declaration had tossed the surly expression into a deep, dark pit. The second replaced it with wide-eyed surprise. "Oh."
"I'm supposed to be your weapons instructor." Julian put his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his hands. "And I'll gladly show you all the lovely toys and how to use them to best effect. But from your hand-to-hand scores, I don't think it'll take you long at all to catch on."
"You want to be an agent, right? That's why you're here?"
"Yeah." She drew the word out, cautious but no longer snarky.
Julian let a slow smile spread over his face. "They want me to be your instructor, Kendra. This falls under the category of be careful what you wish for. I'm going to teach you so many things the adults don't want you to know."
The return smile was so full of unholy joy, Julian knew he would teach her for that alone.
About The Brimstone Journals
Extra treats for our Brimstone readers, Brimstone Journals will post every Tuesday. Short scenes from characters' lives before, after or during the stories.
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