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Title: rowboat
Author: Twinkledru J.
Fandom: Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Verhoeven/Raynis/Capizzi/Kline, etc., not I. Rock on.
Notes: Set shortly after "Captured". Mild slashy subtext, but maybe not, maybe it's just a vignette with no slash. Whatever.

He's begun having the dream during 'daytime'. Perhaps while he was awake was more correct. At any rate, he knew it wasn't right, even for a spook like him.

Often it was shortly before one of the migraines hit, or just after he was ordered to 'scan' for something. The dream would come and there was nothing he could ever do to stop it. He's learnt to simply go along with it, and hope that it would end shortly and that his eyes wouldn't glaze over too badly, nor would he do something truly embarassing like scream or faint or what-have-you.

But ever since they left Tophet today, he's been stuck in it, which is why he's in his bunk alone while Rico and Diz and the others are showering and eating real food (as close as SICON is willing to spring for, at any rate) and basically just enjoying the simple pleasures which come with being back 'home'.

he's in a rowboat a tiny little rowboat adrift in an enormous ocean

He can barely keep his head up, as Brutto would probably attest to (if it weren't for the fact that he had to maintain his tough-guy image), and though, truth be told, he's really quite hungry, he can't find the energy to pull himself up and head over to the mess.

his boat is nearly-rotten wood and it's storming around him and the waves are huge and the ocean is so fucking deep that it terrifies him more than anything ever has

So he really has no choice.

but to wait the storm out and know that screaming for help will do no good and that all he can do is pray that they will simply let him drift. because it's the worst when they call out and he knows there's a fleet of battleships preparing to overtake him

His head still aches from today, between the brainbugs and boosting Brutto and hearing the Skinnies down the hall.

they screamed at him today, a thousand voices over bullhorns screaming from the fleet at his tiny rowboat



And he knows, honestly, that he really can't go on like this much longer. But he's a Roughneck, dammit, and he's going to stay that way, and a Roughneck never quits.

When someone comes in, he quickly feigns sleep, and grimaces when his stomach growls. Whoever it is has just come from the mess hall.

It's kind of sad how delicious Valley Forge food smells right now.

A chuckle. "Come on, man, you're not foolin' anyone."

Opens his eyes a bit as Brutto dims the lights, seeming to appreciate the migraine. "The mess isn't as crowded anymore."

"I'm not hungry," Jenkins answers, as he's learned to anytime someone suspects anything. The only thing an explanation ever got him was more and more alienated.

"Ah," Brutto says, obviously not believing a word of this. He waits for a moment. Jenkins's stomach snarls again, more fiercely this time, seemingly intent on putting on a show for its audience. Lousy ingrate organ.

"Come on," Brutto says again, more businesslike this time.

"Seriously. I'm not -- "

"You starve yourself and you're only going to weaken yourself. When you're starving, you make mistakes. You're slow at best, and at worst, you slip up when we can't afford you to slip up. I don't care if you feel like eating, you're gonna eat for the good of the squad."

Jenkins sighs. "Fine," he says quietly, beginning the long process of dragging himself into a sitting position and sliding down from the bunk.

"Oh, for the love of..." A pair of arms wraps around his waist and lifts him down from the bunk like a child. He yanks himself away from Brutto and stalks out of the room, and feels a smug satisfaction when he gets a couple of meters before he needs to lean against the wall and put his head between his knees.

He can practically hear the other man's smirk as Brutto catches up to him and speaks again. But to his credit, "Come on, let's go," is all he says as he helps Carl stand.

Lets him go, either a) aware that Carl doesn't want to be mothered right now, b) embarassed to be seen trying to mother Carl right now, or c) some combination thereof.

But stays with him, even as Carl tries to bat him away. "Nice try," he says drily. "But you collapse and it's gonna be my ass Razak's kickin' for letting you wither away. If it makes you feel better, this is as much for my own interests as it is for the good of the squad."

"Yeah," Carl says weakly. "A whole lot better." Doesn't mention the fact that Brutto said nothing about it being for *Carl's* good.

He's glad when they finally make it to the mess hall and Brutto dumps him into a chair. "Wait here, I'll get you some food."

Carl doesn't bother arguing. Might as well enjoy the fact that Brutto's as close to waiting on him hand and foot as he's ever gonna get to waiting on anyone hand and foot.

But in the stillness of the near-empty mess, his head begins to pound again

and he's back in his rowboat and grasps at an oar but his hand slips off and he just tries to hang on as a huge wave crashes over his head can't see a thing but he can't hear a thing either so it can't be all bad

"Snap out of it, ya creepy little toothpick!"

And he finds himself shaken back to his senses and Brutto staring down at him in disturbed shock, and a tray in front of him containing what is apparently supposed to be some kind of spaghetti but looks more like a sponge.

"Oh," he says quietly. "Sorry. I, uh, zoned out there for a minute."

"No shit. Eat. The sooner you get that down, the sooner I can get you back to your bunk and the smaller my chances of being forevermore known as Brutto the Babysitter become."

Rather than protest, Jenkins obediently downs his pasta/sponge and piss-tasting coffee, which gives him a bit of jolt. When he finally rises to his feet himself, Brutto gives him a quick inspection, nods once, and stalks off, seemingly satisfied with Carl's capacity to make it back to his bunk alone.

Which he does, eventually.

The coffee only keeps him awake longer. But it doesn't really matter because the dream comes anyway.

As he's finally fading into sleep (where the dream will come, of course), he entertains the notion that it wasn't for Brutto's reputation, it wasn't for the good of the squad, it was because they were Roughnecks, and a Roughneck never leaves a man behind.

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