SIM:Livingston, Benjamin/Brotherly Love Part I
((Livingston’s Apartment, early the following morning))
::Above him, the lighted ceiling panels shone down on Ben with the same intensity as always, plus or minus zero-point-five percent. It was possible to change the settings to put out less or more light over the course of the day or change its color, warmth, and frequency distribution to better suit his eyes. Ergonomically, it was considered a good idea, and many residents did so. But for the amount of time that Ben spent here, which was less than he would have liked, he had a moral preference against it. Having run the diagnostics on the control systems and observed the measurements for similar systems, the conclusion he reached was that any benefit that he derived was outweighed by the strain on the system.::
::So Ben could state with confidence that the light was the same light he always saw when lying in bed, half under the sheets and half sprawled across it. And yet the light felt a bit brighter than usual, a little bit warmer, as though enveloping him in it. If there was no physical difference, it could only be attributed to the psychological difference between going to sleep after a draining day of feeling let down by the universe and waking up to the inherent symbolism of a new beginning.::
::It was hours earlier than he usually got up, and Ben foresaw himself regretting the decision, but lying here was doing nothing good for him – he could actually feel himself being drawing back to that state of depression that had been so overwhelming the previous night.::
Livingston: oO This bed is too big.Oo
::Despite being diagonally across the bed, his arms could be splayed outward and his legs not be bothered by the sheet meticulously tucked under the mattress on the side opposite him. He felt some unusual craving – as though he wanted something he could not define. He pulled the pillow close and wrapped an arm around it. The feeling subsided as he gently squeezed, but it soon returned.::
Livingston: oO Enough of this. Oo ::sighing:: oO Time to get up, however early it is. Oo
::Rolling off onto the floor, he stayed there for a minute, then slowly did a few pushups prior to lifting himself onto his feet. The thought of hitting the track struck, so he pulled a tee over his head and grabbed a bottle of water on his way out.::
::The silence gave the place a sort of solemnity that would otherwise have never crossed his mind in this room. Ahead of him, racks of free weights and various implements of fitness sat stacked up, just waiting for someone to use them. He walked past them and stepped out onto the track, artificially suspended for better long-term health. After a moment of stretching his legs out ahead of him and taking a few deep breaths, he jumped up and started around at a nice, easy pace to warm up.::
((Later, Main Engineering))
:: His finger dropped back onto the desk. After another five seconds, he raised it again and tapped. It was his usual “waiting” finger-tap, but this time Ben was waiting for himself. His eyes glossed over as he stared at that spot on the wall just above the monitor. Something had to click into place. He expected the run to do some good. And it had, but that faded as soon as he got to the office; now his mind was sluggish.::
::Here, too, the room was quiet, not yet filled with the bustle of people coming to work. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ben recognized that there was a list a mile long of things to fix and check and do, but he could hardly bring himself to think of them, let alone start the day’s tasks.::
::The monitor ahead of him lit up, and the familiar sound of an incoming message caught him off guard.::
Livingston: oO Strange … who’d need me at this hour? Oo
::He hit “accept” and the screen switched to a view of a very familiar face.::
J. Livingston: ::cheerfully:: How’s it going, big bro?
B. Livingston: Uh, alright, I guess. What happened?
::Before him, the man’s slight face changed expression. Ben could recognize it as mock astonishment from years of practice.::
J. Livingston: What, I’m not allowed to give a call just to say hello? I didn’t know we’d drifted so far apart.
::Ben rolled his eyes. There was very little that the pair had in common, but one of those things was a mutual distance from one another. It had grown after the incident, but from boyhood it had been present.::
B. Livingston: Don’t give me that. It’s funny you should though; I was just, well, thinking about you, I guess. Just the other day.
J. Livingston: Well, I’m not surprised, Lieutenant! Look, the fact is that with you all the way out there, it’s not surprising that you should get a little lonesome without your brother to keep you entertained.
B. Livingston: Right. How are Mom and Dad?
J. Livingston: Oh, same old, same old … Mom’s doing alright. Dad’s livid, as usual. ::He grinned:: But I gave him a real good reason this time.
B. Livingston: ::rolling his eyes:: Care to elaborate?
::John gave a smirk that would have made the devil himself jealous.::
J. Livingston: Take a look for yourself.
::The screen switched over to text. Ben scanned it, but before he finished even the second line, his jaw dropped.::
Lieutenant, J.G. Ben Livingston
Assistant Chief Engineer
Starbase 118 Ops