Being haunted by nightmares wasn't the ideal way Pete Lattimer wanted to spend his sleeping hours before receiving an assignment in the morning. Phantoms of a past mission preoccupied is subconscious mind during the night. More than once, Pete got up from his bed and paced the room shaking off cold sweat and trying to rid himself of his own screams of pain echoing through his mind. The Spine. . .it had nearly killed him. . .if Myka hadn't have brought him back or had shot him, he would be dead and six feet under. Finally, after five separate occasions of him waking up in a panic, Pete left his room. He quietly crept past Myka's room, not wanting to disturb her since he was perfectly aware that it was close to three o'clock in the morning.
The floorboards made miniscule creaking sounds as he tread upon them on the way down to the ground floor. He went straight to the kitchen, grabbing a glass from the cabinet and filling it with water from the tap. Downing it like there was no tomorrow, Pete leaned on the countertop in front of the sink heavily and stared out of the kitchen window. The stars were brightly aglow that night and Pete wondered why he hadn't seen them shine so vibrantly before. He had been there weeks and never noticed how clear the sky was. That was different than D.C. where the night was obscured by millions of lights illuminating the sky.
Curiously with childlike wonder, Pete set down his glass and made his way outside to the backyard garden. Leena always kept every aspect of the Bed & Breakfast meticulously groomed and the outside was not an exception. Pete went out to the middle of the garden that was a little way out from the house and sat in the middle on the stone bench. Gazing up at the stars, he noticed constellations that he had learned about with his father when he was a kid.
"There's the Big Dipper, Dad!" Pete grinned, pointing at the dark sky above their heads. Matthew Lattimer followed his son's finger to where there was a familiar constellation.
"No, Pete, that's the Little Dipper," Matthew looked down at his small son that was temporarily crestfallen. Improvising to make a smile reappear, the older Lattimer quickly added, "But that's special too. See, you can be the Little Dipper and I can be the Big Dipper. Then you get to be the Big Dipper when you grow up."
Pete's six-year-old unconditional admiration of his father placed a smile back on his face, "Really?"
Matthew nodded with a grin to match his youngest son's, "Yeah, Pete, really."
Pete stared up at the sky with a small smile as he saw the Big Dipper shining above his head. A moment later, he heard muffled footsteps in the grass and turned his head to see his partner Myka Bering walking over to the bench. She looked tired and still asleep, but also concerned.
"Pete?" she asked, coming over to his side.
"Hey, Myka," Pete answered, "I was just looking at the stars."
"The stars?" Myka frowned, "What for?"
"They remind me of my childhood. Don't you ever look at the stars?"
"No," she shook her head, "I don't look at the stars."
"Well, you should," Pete responded before gazing back up to the night sky and falling silent for a few moments. Myka slid onto the bench, snuggling close to him in the cold of the night. Pete glanced over at her, studying her face. The moonlight reflected off of her pale skin, making her look radiant. Her beauty was highlighted in the illumination of the white, wondrous orbs above them. Pete slid an arm around her shoulders, holding her close to him and she laid her head on his chest softly.
"I don't know much about stars," she admitted.
"I'll teach you," Pete offered casually, focusing his eyes back to the Heavens.
"I'd like that," Myka murmured, falling back asleep against him. Pete brushed his lips against the top of her hair and then his gaze was once more transfixed above.
"The first thing I'll teach you is about the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper," he whispered.