SIM:Livingston, Benjamin/Brotherly Love Part II
::Ben scanned over the text that now appeared on the screen. His stomach tightened as he read the words.::
Mr. John Livingston, Esq.,
I am pleased to inform you that after careful review, Starfleet Command and the Starfleet Academy Commandant have decided to accept your application to Starfleet Academy, San Francisco campus, to study in our Law program.
If you choose to accept this offer, please reply within two weeks. You will report for duty at the San Francisco campus on Stardate 239004.01. You will find logistics attached to this letter, as well as required reading to be completed prior to your arrival.
::The letter continued, but Ben could not.::
B. Livingston: John! What have you done!?
::The screen switched from text back to the image of his brother, doubled over in laughter.::
J. Livingston: Ha ha! You should have seen the look on your face when you read that, Bennie boy! Oh, wait! You can.
::The screen changed to a still of Ben’s face, somewhere between disbelief and rage. Ben clenched his jaw as he sat watching it until John switched the view back. Now able to look at his brother, Ben glowered at him and leveled a finger straight at his brother’s face.::
B. Livingston: You listen to me. You cannot accept that offer. And don’t tell Dad about it, he’ll blow a gasket real quick. You know how he reacted when I applied, and that must have been much easier for him. At least I’d already become an engineer – Starfleet was less of a fall.
J. Livingston: ::adopting a particularly sober expression, John nodded slowly.:: You’re right, Ben, you’re right. Dad would be upset. It’s just that, well … well, I already accepted the offer, and I’ve already told him. ::John smiled broadly and slapped the desk.:: And you’re right, he was so mad … oh, jeez, you should have heard him.
::Silence fell between them, and it remained for a moment as Ben thought. There were few situations that got under Ben’s skin. He’d found many more since joining 118, but that was the nature of the beast. The other thing that consistently managed to irritate him was any situation involving John. The man – boy, really – had a knack for finding those things that annoyed people, and poking them right there.::
::And this was exactly one of those places. Starfleet had become a refuge for Ben – away from corporate life, a place he could excel and make a difference, and a way of feeling useful. But John? He didn’t have the same values as Ben. What values did this jokester even have? The whole reason probably was to annoy him.::
B. Livingston: John, why did you apply?
J. Livingston: What do you mean? I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my big brother!
::Ben arched an eyebrow.::
B. Livingston: No you didn’t. ::beat:: Why’d you do it?
J. Livingston: Well it’s complicated, Bennie. But here’s the thing. The galaxy is a complicated place, politically, legally, morally … ::John trailed off, implying that the list went on and on, or as John might have said, ad infinitum:: The Federation needs strong minded individuals with skills over a broad range of specialties, not the least of which –
B. Livingston: I’ve heard the pitch, John.
J. Livingston: ::shifting in his seat.:: I thought you’d be happy. Or at least happy for me.
B. Livingston: How’d you get in with your record?
J. Livingston: Top 5%, you know that.
B. Livingston: Not that record.
::Silence descended once more. This time, Ben was not thinking. John, on the other hand, clearly was. His lips parted slightly a few times before he managed to speak.::
J. Livingston: Ben, please.
B. Livingston: How?
J. Livingston: Ben, remember … I wasn’t convicted. You know that.
B. Livingston: And you remember. About what you put me through. All of us through. ::He shook his head slowly.:: Everything those families had to go through.
::John looked increasingly uncomfortable. He looked stung by an internal agony. It was an expression that Ben had seen before, and for half a moment, the hardness Ben felt was fractured and his own pain managed to find its way through.::
((Flashback – years ago))
Bailiff: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
::Ben looked down to find his hand resting upon the cover, his fingertips sensing the book’s beauty and softness. His other arm was midair.::
Livingston: I do.
::The book dropped from beneath his hand; the Bailiff retreated with it under his arm. Ben looked around and the crowded room, then sat. The seat, too, was very comfortable, much as the book had been.::
Judge: Please state your name for the record.
Livingston: Ben Livingston.
Judge: Your FULL name, Mr. Livingston.
Livingston: ::beat:: Benjamin Livingston.
Judge: And your relation to the defendant?
::Ben closed his eyes and swallowed what little was in his dry mouth. His tongue tasted like sandpaper. He looked up at the judge, who glowered, jaw clenched and gavel in hand, down at him. The prosecutor, likewise, stood facing him with arms crossed.::
::He looked over to the table before him, where sat, eyes pleading and sorrowful and contrite, the boy who had looked at him so many times before, after getting himself into trouble with the neighbors or Mom and Dad or his teachers.::
::Ben gulped down the sandpaper.::
Livingston: He is my brother.
Prosecutor: And on the day that … ::sniff:: ahem, that this tragedy occurred, Mr. Livingston. Where were you?
::Ben reached to grab his hand. When had it begun shaking? He leaned in toward the small microphone before him.::
Livingston: I was at home.
Prosecutor: And your home is where?
Livingston: Boston, Massachusetts.
Prosecutor: So you were not with the defendant in New York City on that day.
Livingston: No. But I did speak to him that morning.
Prosecutor: But to be clear, you were not WITH him, Mr. Livingston?
::Ben’s mouth opened, but nothing came out.::
Judge: I remind you that you are under oath to tell the truth.
Livingston: ::beat:: No. I was not.
::Ben’s gaze wandered back to the seat in front of him. His brother held his head in his hands, fingers gripping his hair. Those big, brown eyes had always laughed. Now there was more anguish in them than amusement.::
::Deep inside of him, Ben could feel some kind of emotion welling up – one that he had felt rarely but very recently. He wanted to reach out, through the screen and take hold of his brother, pull him close and hug the man that he had so often wanted to hit.::
J. Livingston: Ben … I don’t know what to say.
::Ben struggled to find some words as he fought back the tears that wanted to burst forth. If he hadn’t just remembered about all this recently, maybe it wouldn’t have been so hard. Maybe he wouldn’t have brought it up. If only he hadn’t been on that mission just before. He sighed, trying desperately to think of what to say.::
J. Livingston: I guess I’d better go.
B. Livingston: John, wait -- ::no words seemed to express what he wanted to say.:: oO don’t go? I’m sorry? I know all of that wasn’t your fault? I’m proud of you? What do I say here? Oo Just … promise me something. Let’s talk again soon, huh? It’s been too long.
::John nodded rapidly, those bright eyes now shiny and red as he pursed his lips in an expression Ben had never seen from his brother. They made eye contact again for just an instant before John looked away again and reached out to tap a button in front of him. The screen went black.::
::Letting an enormous sigh escape, Ben rocked back in his chair and let fingers run through his hair.::
Livingston: oO What have I said to him? What have I done? He was only a kid … Oo
::A minute passed as he thought quietly over all that had transpired before he decided to try to do something productive and take his mind off of it. He searched around for something in front of him, but after picking up a PADD, he tossed it back onto the desk. He sighed again.::
Livingston: Computer – letter composition. Take dictation. My dear brother John. At some point in the future, we’ll talk again about the events that neither of us like to speak about. When we do, I will do my best to make sure it is done in a productive manner, and not brought up in anger. I am also very proud that you have been able to recover yourself and not only succeed in law school, but be accepted by the very selective Starfleet Academy. Despite everything we just said to one another, I’m proud to call you brother. Now, I do want to offer some advice as you embark on this newest adventure. After all, it’s one of the few escapades you’ve taken for which I have advice to give that’s not “don’t.”
::Ben smiled to himself as he imagined his brother laughing at that line. He gathered his thoughts, then continued.::
Lieutenant, J.G. Ben Livingston
Assistant Chief Engineer
Starbase 118 Ops