The island was quiet as he stood on the watch platform in the castle ruins, glancing down at the water every now and then to see any black specks moving about in the ocean. There were none.
He frowned, tilting his hat back as he rubbed his temples. The events of the last few days had not fared well for his mind, frustrated beyond explanation at the ignorance and arrogance of some people willing to spill blood and cost lives because someone hurt their feelings with words. It was because of their very willingness to do such things that John thought so little of them. He respected the Irishman a lot more when he'd come to camp to speak peacefully months before, but at the end of GMTC he'd lost most of that as the man showed his true colors of being a coward that tries to flex his muscles on people who don't have a fighting bone in their body.
Men like them didn’t understand any other way. So they had two choices, make them understand and compromise, or go at it until only one stood. And despite John’s track record… He didn’t feel much like fighting. That need for bloodshed had drained itself from him as of late. He’d looked inwardly on himself a bit more these last few months, decided he’d not liked what he saw… What others saw.
He decided not to dwell on it any more for now, as the sheer thought of such made him feel like he was losing brain cells.
He moved off the platform, stepping down the rickety stairs. He'd have to look into fixing them a bit. It had been some years since he'd attempted any sort of carpentry work, but the skill never really left and stairs were something he'd done before, when the basement steps in his sister's house had rotted through from water damage and her piece of shit excuse of a husband was too lazy to do anything about it. That was around the time they divorced, and he was glad for it.
As he stepped down the road, he glanced down the hill to see Diane walking along the beach line talking to Derek. He noticed she’d been talking to him a lot recently, and when he passed it was always something about clothes.
He smiled a bit, amused at how some things never changed. But the amusement faded as he thought about exactly how much had changed. Her brand he’d helped to burn from her body, that thing that had marked her as property… It reminded him that this entire time he’d been here… She’d been a slave.
He thought back. Their paths had been so different over the years after the separation. When she’d been captured and made to submit to such a horrible fate… he’d been at the settlement. The camp out West of here that he’d recovered at in the beginning… He’d not thought about it much lately. He tilted his head as he recalled the place, a far cry from what was possible here…
“Hey, let’s get those ammo cans unloaded and catalogued!” John yelled across the courtyard at the men dressed out in MARPAT gaggled around a Humvee with it’s hood compartment open. One of the men, sitting in the back driver side seat with his legs hanging out the open door, hopped out, waving at John. He had Lieutenant bars on his uniform.
“Waters! Jennings said we don’t have any more space in the armory.” Cody Johnson said, trotting up. “He said the shelves can’t take that much weight.” He finished as he came shoulder to shoulder with John.
“Well, if there was ever anybody to know about too much weight…” John said absentmindedly as he scribbled down something on his clipboard, earning a chuckle from Cody is response to the joke of Quartermaster Corporal Carl Jennings’ above average size. “Alright, well, count out how much there is, stack it on a pallet, and have your guys shrink wrap it in plastic, we’ll find a place for it somewhere.”
“Yeah, yeah, you got it.” Johnson said, almost dismissively. “Hey, you seen the new addition that Andrea got on the construction crew?”
John glanced at Cody for a second, a knowing look on his face. “Let me guess, you’re eyeing the female engineer that got pulled from Miroslavl?” He asked, earning an enthusiastic nod from the LT. “C’mon, Cody, already? You’re still in hot water with Darja for that one night stand you promised wouldn’t be a one night stand.”
“Hey, man, she’s crazy! Besides, this girl’s got the rack to match the back!” He said, making his hands into a frame motion, bending his knees like he was being blown away by strong winds or something, then leaning forward and grabbing John by the shoulders, shaking him vigorously. “Come on, Waters! She’s got a frieeeeend!” He said, dragging the last word out in an almost sing song voice.
John hit him with the clipboard in the shoulder, drawing a yelp of surprise as Cody pulled away. “And she’s undoubtedly fifteen years my junior, no thanks.”
“John! What do they say? Age is just a social construct? I mean…” He paused, looking John over. “Shit, man, you’re still old as dirt-”
“Fuck you!” John whipped out with a laugh.
“But hey, you’re still a pretty good looking guy! If I went the other way, I’d hit that.” He said, making humping motions in the air.
“Son, you’d be taking it, not giving shit. But whatever you gotta tell yourself to feel like the Alpha here, sure.” John said with a chuckle, deciding to play along with the Marine.
“Oh, shit, he’s a giver!” Johnson yelled loudly, earning another hit with the clipboard, and a fake ‘ow’ from the LT. “But for real, come on, be my wing man!”
“I’ll pass, Cody, thanks.” John said.
“Man, you just don’t want to bang some chick that’s got more energy than you do!” Johnson said, treading back to the Humvee with his guys.
“No, trust me, I have the energy!” He yelled back. “I’m just not getting labeled as a cradle robber!”
Johnson made a arms spread wide gesture at his fellow Marines around the Humvee, of whom were all listening now to the exchange. “Hey Waters, don’t take your jacket off anytime soon!” He yelled, earning a confused look from John. Cody then waved his hand in a winding motion. “You know, it’s gotta be pretty fucking drafty up there on that high horse of yours!” He yelled, earning hoots and screams from the other Marines, roaring in laughter.
John flipped them all the bird as he moved from the vehicle courtyard into the main part of the settlement area, filing into the crowd of people that had gathered around in the market area…
John looked back to the tents where everyone else was gathered around a fire. He smelled the scent of cooking fish, likely some people were cooking up Buddy’s fresh haul from the day. Not many things impressed him these days, but that kids dedication and skill to his trade was something that never ceased to amaze him. As he walked up, he noticed Diane and Derek Graceland had moved up to the firelight while he’d been zoned out in his own mind. He touched the back of Diane’s elbow as he slid past her on the way to one of the tents, earning a slightly startled look that turned to a smile and a greeting. He nodded at her, leaving her to finish her clothing conversation with Graceland...