(Apologies for the late publishing date on this one, folks – work stress caught up with me and I needed a weekend to recover. This is in NO way Brian’s fault, by the way. I’m the slack-arse!)
I wish I knew, he said, pained by each word.
That was part of the deal. We all had talent in our respective areas, but Uncle Sam wanted the perfect team.
So, we agreed to test-run the RASA program. Reassignment And Substitution of Aptitude – you walk in, they blank slate you, and you walk out knowing exactly what they want you to know.
They’ve been working with brain stuff for years. This was the next step – inputting new knowledge into the brain. I think we volunteered because we always wanted to know more, y’know?
His cigarette burns out. He puts it down, pulls out a new one.
I think you were the only one who had a single role, though. Everybody else could step up and help out in one way or another, but you just had so damn much to know, you had to be the specialist.
I mean, you did your medic work, but you and Ein did a lot of good will stuff, too. He wasn’t a fighter, either, but he was your backup, and you two did a lot of doctors-without-borders type shit. Going to villages, treating the sick, helping the wounded.
Fuck, you never even carried a weapon for the first two years. He grins, thinking about it. You really were a miracle, you know that?
I wondered why I liked watching that Clara Barton documentary so much. I guess I know why.
What about you? I asked.
Me? He chuckles as he lights his cigarette, and keeps laughing as he puffs. I just fixed things. I remember the time you stopped a turf war in Somalia in two days – you took one to pull out the local warlord’s kidney stone, and had me set up a water filtration system by number two.
‘Everybody goes home happy, nobody has to die.’ – that was what you wanted it to be like, all the time.
He tilted his head to the side, and takes a quick drag. Well, Goh wasn’t too happy. I think that was more about losing the bet, though.
What bet? I’m more than a little curious.
Well, he laughs a bit as he remembers, Goh was all set to have Nikki blow the warlord’s convoy sky high and take him out, but you bet him that if you could do it in two days, without killing anybody, he’d teach you how to throw knives.
And if I lost?
Well… you’d have to do a dance.
I glare Tre down. If this Goh wasn’t dead, he would be.
What KIND of dance?
The sexy kind.
Tre laughed. Take it easy. You won.
I’m still groaning, but it’s a groan of relief.
So, that’s how I learned how to throw knives?
Yep. You tried to do that with scalpels, too. Didn’t work too well. You bummed throwing knives off Goh and Essex about a week in. And for the next month, all you’d hear coming from your room was *thud* ishishish *thud*,… He gestures, mimicking the throw and the hit, all the damn time.
Octo got pissed about it, so he talked to the supervisors, and you got started with some self defense stuff. Goh taught you knives, Dreyfuss and Essex taught you hand-to-hand, and you kept with it. I taught you some more advanced stuff I picked up from them, like that arm twist you pulled on Adam.
Huh. We sat there, thinking about the whole thing, and then he said, I wonder why you can’t dream, though. That’s fucking weird.
And that sets me off. That’s fucking weird? You’re talking about government mind-wiping projects, secret missions to Somalia, and me being some kind of super-doctor, and you think me not being able to dream is fucking weird? You don’t think the fact that we can’t remember a whole fucking life before this thing is weird? You don’t think that not having a family, birthdays, photo albums, any of that stuff is weird?
He smiles, and his whole face just tells me that none of that matters to him. I’ve got my sister back.
I could care less about that shit. He reaches his arm around me, and squeezes. And besides, we’re starting over. Who cares about the past?
I guess he’s right. He says if it means that much to me, he’ll pick me up some medical textbooks, and I can start learning medicine, all over again. Won’t be as easy, but it’ll be something. We start heading back inside as the sun comes up, but one question stays with me.
Why did I want to start over?