Independent 24: the Final Cut
Copyright July 2016
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series
Season: Second (Buffy)
Rating: PG13 (strong violence)
Spoiler(s): “Passion” (S2-17), Buffy
Genre: AU, ‘what if?’, with action and character interplay
Length: 15,904 words
Main Character(s): Giles, Xander, Ethan
Teaser: A rescue that doesn’t go exactly as planned, with more than a few unexpected lessons learned.
Acknowledgment: This story was done for the 2016 summer_of_giles.
Susan was hired for the VA position she most wanted, the one in California; the position provides a massive raise — about 65% — so even with the higher cost-of-living there, she should be able to do okay. More than that, her supervisor here told her she didn’t have to provide a full month’s notice, two weeks would be enough, so we’re planning to drive there together (I’ll fly back) toward the end of this month. She’s already placed the four cats with someone else, and is trying to find a home for the oldest and largest dog (she’s taking the two smaller dogs with her).
Oh, and she had a minor accident last month — someone rear-ended her on the Interstate, and now she can’t get the hatchback on her car to close — so we’ll be trying to get the insurance company to cover repairs before she makes the California move.
So far, through April and May and now edging into June as well, it has rained every single day I’ve been off work. Our lawn really needs to be mowed, but even when it isn’t raining there’s never enough time for the grass to get really dry. Small problem, yes, but still frustrating.
I passed my DOT physical, except for the eye test, and passed that part handily after I got my eyeglasses prescription updated. I still don’t know for sure that I want to go back into driving; with Susan relocating to California, I’d be leaving our home unattended for weeks at a stretch, plus I’m not sure how it would feel to spend so much time on the road without someone to come home TO. Still, if I decide to go that route, I’ve re-qualified now, and it would only be a matter of convincing someone to hire me.
I’ve finished the second story in the twelve I announced I’d be writing this year … which, two in five months still leaves me badly behind schedule but no further behind. (For some reason “Curious Poses” resisted me for quite a while before finally allowing itself to be finished.) Even so, the response has been … well, I could say ‘uncharacteristic’. In retrospect, maybe it was a mistake to post “the Other Night I Dreamt of Knives” on Memorial Day; even the people who read it may have just been too busy with holiday stuff, but this was the first time in over ten years that I posted a new story on LJ and got no comments whatsoever. Have I become spoiled? Entirely possible. Or maybe I’ve just been posting so little lately that too many people have got out of the habit of following me. I’ll have to do something about that.
Time for bed. Morning shift tomorrow.
Yesterday I found out (via Facebook, which I almost never use for myself, but which I keep open so I can track my kids and keep up with select others) that a former member of my old Army Reserve unit had been killed in a civilian accident. This was something of a jolt, for several reasons.
First and most obvious … well, I don’t really have to explain it. Someone you used to know has died. That’s going to feel at least a little weird to anybody.
Second is sort of about me. I joined my unit in September 2002, because I could tell by the news that we would almost certainly be going back into Iraq soon. By the end of November, I was in a retraining course at a base in California; by the end of January, I was on a bus to Fort Bragg with the rest of my unit, to prepare for our deployment overseas. My new unit operated primarily in three-man teams; the man I’ve been talking about — call him Badger — was team leader of the one I was assigned to. Before we left Bragg, though, I had been transferred to a different team, so I never served under Badger in the field. So, okay, I was the third man on two different three-man teams, meaning five of us in total.
In 2008, I found out that the young man who had been Badger’s assistant team leader had killed himself. During my second Iraq tour, 2009-10, I heard that the team chief of my second team had died of a heart attack. (During that first tour, the man was three years younger than me and looked fifteen years older.) Now Badger himself is gone, too. Except for me, there’s only one of us left, and I don’t even really know about him, in that I haven’t seen or heard from him in a dozen years. I was the oldest man in the company the day I walked in the door, and remained so till I retired; how am I suddenly in contention for Lone Survivor?
Third was also to do with age. The obituary listed Badger as 43 years old. When we met, he wasn’t even 30 yet. How did so much time go by without me noticing it?
And I suppose I could list a fourth, though that one didn’t occur to me till just now. Three men I met through the Army, knew throughout a wartime deployment, and all gone now outside of combat.
No idea what conclusions to draw from any of that. It just keeps feeling strange.
Nearly 1,400 words done on TONIDoK, the second of my planned stories for this year. It should have been done in February, but I was still hung up on “Curious Poses” at the time. There was a section in TONIDoK that had to be worked out just right, but I’m past that, so I can (if necessary) do the remainder during rest breaks and lunch breaks at work. Not necessarily how it should be done, but that can serve as a decent supplement to writing at home.
Susan is still awaiting word from Seattle, meanwhile has others calling to interview her, including the top-paying post in SanFran and the lowest-cost-of-living job in Texas. She had to turn down an interview in Richmond, because they wanted face-to-face, and she could afford neither the time nor the cost to fly over just to talk to people. Still, she’s heartened at finding she’s considered a serious candidate for various positions around the country.
Looking forward to a move that lasts for several years, she’s trying to trim down the number of pets she has. At one time we had four dogs and five cats, but one of the dogs wandered off (not the first time, but this time she didn’t come back, doubtless has a new happy home by now), one of the cats was killed (maybe by a car, maybe by something else, I just happened to find the body by the highway next to our house), and Susan found a new owner for another of the cats. Yet another has also been arranged, but we’ve found she’ll have to deliver that one herself; every time I go near any of the three remaining cats — or even look at them — they split for a hiding place. Honestly, I never mistreated the animals, I just loathe them. Is that so wrong?
A couple of months ago, our heat pump (I think) went out. By then the weather in our part of the country was mild enough that we could get by with small heaters in our rooms as needed, till we could afford to address repairs. Now the weather is warming more, and apparently the AC works off the same system. Have to call somebody about that, never mind the water problem and foundation problem …
I’m still watching for any news about this year’s RemixRedux. Seriously, does anybody know?
I’ve posted end notes for “Curious Poses”.
Susan had a phone interview with one of the VA positions in Seattle; since then, they contacted two of her co-workers for references, but she hasn’t heard anything the last few days.
We discovered an under-the-floor water leak that may be the actual cause of our floor-warping problems, or may be aggravating the other issue I described.
Writing has not proceeded as quickly as I wished, but I think I might manage something substantial over the next few days.
VA medical appointment for me Tuesday; I need to make a list of all the medications I’m currently using, and a second list of issues and symptoms I don’t want to forget to bring up while I’m there.
Last week I went karaokeing with my youngest brother. Got to sing three times — “Thunder Road” (Springsteen), “Jack and Diane” (Mellenkamp), and “867-5309/Jenny” (Tutone). My voice is adequate without being spectacular, but I do have some talent at choosing songs I can belt out to full effect, and I got plenty of favorable response. (Except for “Jack and Diane”, everything I sang was a staple I’d previously proven effective; the new addition was a judgment call which worked out as well as I had suspected.) I used to enjoy doing karaoke, but it’s probably been over a year since the last time. Still fun.
PS: forgot to mention, I signed up for this year’s summer_of_giles. Also, does anyone know if RemixRedux will run late this year, or even skip a year? because I’ll have to modify my plans if they do.
I realized recently that, though I make a post every time I add a cover banner to one of my stories, I’ve not always done that when I post a new story that already has a banner. This one will make up for the existing deficits.
The first one is a slightly exceptional case. sroni had already done a banner for me for “Rough Trade” (November 2014), but then comlodge turned out one I liked better, so I used that instead for the cover … but then stuck sroni’s at the beginning of the first chapter. Yeah, I can do that.
“Tea and Oranges”, published four months ago:
And, of course, the just- And that’s all, folks.
And that’s all, folks.
Some months ago, as part of the Fandom Snowflake Challenge, I did a cryptic list of the fics I intended to write in 2016 (here). Posting it that way was my attempt at commitment: it would be harder for me to let it slide it was there for people to see.
That was the theory, anyhow. With one thing and another, it wasn’t until this week that I posted the first fic — “Curious Poses”, the ‘CP’ on my projected fic list — which doesn’t at all accord with the one-per-month average I needed to maintain. (More positively, I’m already a few hundred words into ‘tONIDoK’, the next on that list.) Because I was genuinely serious about the commitment, however, the more tardy I was in finishing that first story, the less inclined I was to let myself indulge in anything else on LiveJournal. The result is that, except for a few comments on other folks’ posts, I let my LJ presence lapse to near-nothing for three months.
( Since my last Fandom Snowflake Challenge post, then, the following things have occurred: )