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It Comes with the Territory....
JPL: Captain Michael Holden, Eli Holden & Malinda McMillian
Taz had been awoken at 0230 for an unspecified emergency call. Mental health concerns and related issues didn't always wait for office hours. This meant that counselors had to deal with unpredictable schedules and even less predictable clientele. And so did their families....
It was still very early that same morning when the sounds of someone making a racket in the living area woke Captain Michael Holden for a second time. The captain slid on a pair of sweat pants he kept near the bed and strolled out in search of the noisemaker.
Sounds of movement came from the mostly dark kitchen. A sliver of light emanated from interior of the refrigeration unit and cast a glow on the floor where Holden spied strewn remains of....pizza?
"Eli?" Holden asked quietly, so as not to wake Mikey. He figured it had to be the teenager as Taz would not just toss things around like this.
"I'm going to THROTTLE YOU, you furry feline freak!" Eli's voice grumbled angrily. "First off, you have no thumbs, so how did you open the fridge...second, you're a carnivore....."
The teen's tirade confirmed Holden's deduction about the source of the racket but the youth hadn't seemed to register his father's query.
"MEOW!" Candy replied jumping onto the counter-top separating the kitchen from where the captain was standing.
"THERE you are!" Eli shouted as he sprang up and lunged for the cat. Instead of connecting with her snowy fur, his head connected with the underside of the cabinet and Candy slipped from his grasp as he slipped onto his butt.
"Owwweee!!" Eli yelped as he rubbed the top of his skull. "And now you're trying to KILL me!" He looked up to glare at the cat and finally noticed his father. "Dad? What are you doing up?"
"Looking to see what all this noise is about," the elder Holden responded. He had successfully suppressed the chuckle that threatened to escape at the sight of his son's escapades. "So, Candy has learned to open the refrigeration unit?"
"It's way worse than that!" His son declared. "She...ate...my pizza!" As Eli picked himself up off the floor the discerning dad's eye noticed an ever so slight trembling in Eli's lower lip. There seemed to be more to this than a clever pizza-purloining cat-burglar.
A swooshing signaled the opening of a door behind the father and son and Malinda stalked defiantly across the open space.
"I heard you saying all those mean things to my kitty." She accused her brother as she made kissing sounds at her pet. The child's open arms were instantly filled by the cat who was quite eager to escape Eli's ire. "I hope Candy eats both of your lizard-things too!" She stomped away and disappeared behind her bedroom door along with her cat.
Instead of making a typically snide remark at Malinda's huffy threats, Eli had swung back around and started cleaning up the mess the cat had allegedly created.
Michael came into the kitchen proper and started helping to clear the mess. "So, something tells me it is not just Candy you are angry about, Son," he said calmly. He threw a couple pieces of the pizza into the recycler.
Eli scooped up the majority of the remaining refuse with the carton and hummed it at the recycler. He missed.
"I give UP." He declared throwing up his hands in frustration. "Hell yeah something else is wrong! Every woman in my life is a total loony-toon - that CAT included!"
Captain Holden caught the chuckle in his throat, once again. He knew the last thing Eli needed was the impression of being laughed
at. What young man didn't go through heartaches at the hands of a woman? He put on a somber face. "What happened, Son?"
Eli crumpled to the floor. "What DIDN'T happen? His voice rose shrilly."Everything is all screwed up and it's easy to see who's to blame! First, Miss Pris Malinda gets her panties in a bunch, runs off and gets herself kidnapped by that insane Purist broad Omega...who proceeds to blow herself and her ship up, nearly killing you in the process.... Taz... mom... disgraces her entire profession, your ship and your family by going flipping berserk on that Devon dude....then some Admiral decides to punish Commander Lobren for just doing his job and sends us that Denobulan lady to take over..... and that blasted cat ATE MY PIZZA...the one T'Ris made for me..." His voice dropped to a whisper. "The last one she'll ever make for me."
The captain's heart broke instantly, for his adopted son. He immediately sat on the floor, next to Eli, positioning himself to let the teen know he was there for him, if Eli wanted him. He remembered his first heartache, when he was fourteen.
He had been so attracted to this girl in his class. It had taken him weeks to get up the nerve to ask her out, and she did go out with him. For two weeks, young Michael Holden was in heaven, and then he saw her with another boy, and it was clear it was over for Michael. When he had tried to tell his mother about it, she simply told him, "The girl isn't worth you, Michael." It definitely was not what he wanted to hear. Truth be told, he didn't want to hear anything, just have his mom hold him, but that was not her way.
"I'm sorry, Eli," Michael said quietly. He put a hand on the teen's back. "What happened with T'Ris?"
At his adoptive father' s touch, Eli stiffened. Any touch from the man who had raised Eli had brought pain but he didn't pull away from Michael, instead, after the initial jerk, the older man felt Eli relax ever-so-slightly.
"Apparently, I constitute too much of a distraction." Eli sniffled a little and looked away. "She's smart and sexy and fun, Ri and I were so perfect together but I would have given her more space, spent less time with her, done anything....but she said she needs to focus on doing her job. I think she's trying to impress her boss...who just happens to be mom!" He folded his arms across his body.
"That, my son, is the downfall of many a relationship," Holden said. He lightly rubbed Eli's back. "Especially with young, fresh out of the academy ensigns. They are just at the start of their careers, and yes, they want to impress their bosses. Nothing is more important to some officers than a positive progress report. I know, to you right now, it is a stupid reason, but I hope in a couple years you also have the same reasons for not wanting to get involved in a serious relationship." And he hoped that Eli would not see Ensign T'Ris cozying up to some other officer, but he left that unsaid.
"Maybe." Eli conceded, not sounding very convinced but at least not lashing out at every woman on the ship. "But it's still not fair! And I was going to have that pizza for breakfast."
"No, Son," Michael said with a sigh, "It's not fair. Especially with a good pizza." He smiled at the boy and rose, offering his hand to help Eli up.