Note: I don't own them, and wishing on stars doesn't make them mine. *sniffle* Archibald Wilkinson is just a name I pulled out of mid-air because it fit. All this was an idea that popped into my head while watching "Gilligan's Island." Please read and review if you can.
"Through the Looking Glass"
The captain of the SeaQuest DSV was a strong man of strong will and equally strong values. In the blink of an eye, he could be seriously authoritative to the point of intimidation, or be the most gentle man on the boat when it came to those he cared for. He ran the ship with a brilliant ease that made the entire crew comfortable, knowing they had no reason to fear their captain. He was their rock. He was their confident, and he was their leader.
He was going to snap if he didn't talk to someone now.
The holoprojector in his quarters gave him the perfect opportunity, and it was times like these he was grateful for it. He pressed the activation button. In a shower of mist, the image of the aged professor in his business suit and clean cut gray beard appeared cool and confident. "Hello, Nathan. Could I help you?"
Nathan paced back and forth, wondering just what to say to the holographic man.
"You seem troubled."
"I'm more than troubled," Nathan answered quickly.
"Yes, and a bit agitated as well as frustrated and stressed," the professor's tone never rose angrily or fell in sadness. He was the perfect monotone psychiatrist. "Talk to me, Nathan. Tell me what's on your mind."
Relenting, the captain sighed. "It's everything. Between Lt. Kreig's latest scheme to dealing with Lucas, even trying to understand Darwin, everyone expects me to keep my cool, to not show any sign of fault, no matter what."
"We'd received a call from the National Science Foundation saying they wanted to cut our funds to better accommodate the space program," he continued with an edge to his voice. "They want to shoot themselves at the stars when the greatest mysteries and discoveries are right in front of their faces. I don't see why they can't understand that."
The professor just listened.
"Carol would had known what to say to them. She always had the right words when I didn't."
"Carol knew you were human, Nathan," the professor said, following the captain's pacing. "And so does the crew. No one expects you to be perfect."
Nathan shook his head. "I know that. They're a good crew," he allowed.
"But they can be a handful. What would suit you best is some time off. Take a few days leave to clear your head."
The captain was about to respond when the image of the professor began to shimmer with distortion. Nathan punched a few keys, but only succeeded in closing down the hologram. He activated the PAL in his room. "Lucas, could you come to my quarters?"
The response was a little delayed, as the kid had just entered his quarters and had to rush across a dirty room. "K, I'll be right there."
A while later, Lucas knocked rapidly on the door before opening it. "You asked to see me, sir?"
"Yes. Come in, Lucas."
Lucas entered the shut the door behind him. "What's up?"
Nathan gestured to the holographic projector in the middle of the room. "I can't seem to keep a clear image. Do you think you can do something about it?"
"Sure," Lucas walked over and tapped at the consol a few times, bringing up the image of the Professor in a curtain of mists.
"Thanks," Nathan straightened his uniform. "Call me when you've got it fixed."
Leaving the young man to what he does best, the captain left his quarters for his afternoon bridge duty.
Lucas' attention focused instantly on the problem at hand. He was so engrossed in the technology that he didn't even hear the professor's first attempt to get his attention.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Wolenczak?"
Lucas looked up, snapping out of it. "Huh? Nah. Looks like a couple of the image projection disks is slightly off, but don't worry, I'll fix it."
The professor was silent a moment as Lucas tinkered with the internal workings of the system. "Your skills continue to amaze me, Mr. Wolenzcak."
Lucas laughed. "Mr. Wolenczak is my dad. I'm just Lucas."
The young man looked up and thought he saw the professor grin. Figuring it must have been a fluke, he went back to work.
"Is there something you would like to talk about, Lucas?"
"Like what?" he walked to the small closet where the captain kept a tool set available and rummaged through it.
"I am here to listen to anything that troubles you."
"Well, thanks, but..."
"I insist." By past experiences, he knew the young man could be extremely stubborn, much like the captain.
Lucas took a screwdriver to side panel and removed the screws, lifting the platting off and setting it on the floor. "Sometimes it feels like I'm not meant to be here. Can't even seem to fit in."
"You're excellent with technology."
"Yea, but look at the people aspect. I suck."
"Allow yourself some time, Lucas. You have only been here five weeks. Relationships take more than that to form, but already I can see progress between yourself and some of the crew."
"Oh yea? Wish I could," he worked skillfully with the small connections inside the projector. "The other day, Commander Ford ran into me in the hall and didn't even apologize. All he said was to watch where I was going."
"The commander is not an easy man to befriend."
"Yea, he's married to his work. There, that should do it."
The professor's image shifted, then returned to crystal clarity.
"I'll give you the same advice I gave the captain," the professor began. "Don't give up so soon before you've had a chance to truly see. Go easy on yourself. No one expects you to be perfect."
No one did, but it was still hard to believe. Lucas quirked a slight half grin, understanding. "Right. I'll be by later to run a full analysis of your systems."
"Thank you, Lucas."
"No problem. Thanks for the ear."
"It is my pleasure."
Lucas replaced the panel and put the tools back. In one smooth motion, he deactivated the holoprojector with a beep and watched the professor's image disappear and the servos draw the until into the ceiling. Satisfied, he left the captain's quarters for the bridge.
* * * *
The old man scooted back in his chair and laced his fingers together with pride, watching Lucas leave the room. The young genius had always held a soft spot in his heart, because he reminded him of himself in his younger wild and crazy days. This particular character had captured his heart and his mind. Though he had only begun to know the SeaQuest crew for only five weeks, already he could sense a bond forming between them; the stiff commander, the brave yet human captain, the cocky intelligent teenager, even the conniving personality of the fun loving moral officer and his relations to his ex-wife. Lt. O'Neill's religious sense had grown on him, and he even liked Miguel Ortiz, although his idea of music was still little more than noise to him. Yes, truly they had become his friends.
Another voice cut into his thoughts. "Professor Wilkinson to the arboretum, Professor Wilkinson to the arboretum."
Professor Archibald Wilkinson grunted as he stood, then faced the recreation of the captain's quarters. "Until next time, my companions."
With a motion as smooth as Lucas Wolenczak's, he entered a short sequence that ended the program SEAQUEST 14, returning the square room to a grid lined cube. Even though the people he preferred to spend his time with were only recreations of people brought out through photons and force fields--creations he had programmed--they were more real to him than his own reality.
With a resigned breath, the professor slide his blazer form the chair back to his shoulders, and clicked the lights off. For a moment, he stood alone in the darkened space, wondering when he'd be back, then left, locking the door of the holoroom behind him.