He came out of the shuttle and saw the family members of the other travellers waiting to greet them. She wasnt there, he hadn’t expected her to be. Still, it would have been nice for her to have a family member bring their son to greet him. He slung his bag over his back and walked casually down the terminal. He saw the usual scenes, loved ones embracing, children happily being embraced by family. He hated spaceports, always had, they were crowded and always reminded him of a family he’d never had. He stopped as he came to the Debarkation Scan Section, where a series of machines scanned the bodies of those who walked through and made sure of no illness, contraband, explosives, etc. He had to place his bag on the ground and walk through once, his bag being sent through a luggage scanner. One of the security technicians looked at him dully as he walked through, just another uniform in the crowd as far as he was concerned. “Afternoon.” He said, his tone matching his look. “Afternoon.” He said tightly, not taking his eyes from the other man’s. He picked up his bag and walked outside to the Pick Up/Drop Off Zone outside. He waved down a taxi and climbed in as it came up to the curb, it’s door opening as it did so. “34 Wake Street.” He said, his tone showing he didn’t really want to go there. He had to, he didn’t want to. The driver eyed him curiously as he drove. This young man with the captain’s bars and the blue uniform was young, at most twenty five. But when he looked into the guy’s eyes he saw a much older man. This guy had obviously seen pain and suffering, and felt it quite a bit in his life. His horizon blue uniform was unmistakeable as that of the United Nations’ Space Force. His garrison cap was tucked up under his left shoulder board, the silver trim around the edge marking him as a junior officer. His two captain’s bars gleaming in the light filtered through the window. The driver glanced casually at the name on his bag, the black label there read: Capt. S. Foster, U.N.S.F. “So, Captain, you live here?” The driver asked, Foster looked rather annoyed for a second, then smiled sheepishly. “Actually that remains to be seen. The wife has to decide.” He said, as nonchalantly as possible, but the pain in his voice was obvious. “Sorry to hear that.” The driver said sincerely, he wished his wife would leave him. Nag, nag, nag, was all she’d do, made him think he was married to his mother, God rest her soul. “Eh, it’s ok, never expected it to last as long as it has. Just wish it was different for my boy. Kid deserves better.” Foster said, the regret tinged with pain so as to tear at any man’s heart. “Hopefully it all works out then, Cap’n.” The taxi driver said, he liked this guy. Foster smiled, he got called “Cap’n” by his subordinates all the time, it was their nickname for him. He missed them, he wished he hadn’t had to come home now, maybe if he’d waited, but no, quick was the easiest way to get this over with. As they drove down the streets he saw a bar and couldn’t resist. “Hey, driver, you wanna drink?” Foster asked as he saw the turn. “Yeah, sure, Cap’n.” As if a good Irish Catholic would turn down a drink. “Good, I’m buying.” Foster said, his tone not leaving any room for argument. “If you’re gonna twist my arm.” Said the taxi driver. They pulled in, parked the taxi, got out and walked into the bar as if they were old friends who’d run into each other on the street. “By the way, my first name’s Sebastian,” Foster said, holding out his hand, “what’s yours?” The taxi driver shook his hand and smiled. “Michael O’Flannery. Pleased to meet you.” They shook hands and walked up to the bar and sat. The place was decent, not a dive, not the Ritz either, someplace between. They waited patiently for the waiter to approach them, a cute red head with a body like a wet dream and a voice like phone sex. “What can I get for you?” She asked, her tone hinting at an underlying meaning to that innocent sounding question. Foster pointed at O’Flannery, telling him to go first. “Scotch on the rocks.” O’Flannery said. Foster smiled, looking down the bar at a pair of blondes who were waving and smiling mischeviously at him. He simply nodded his head at them. “I’ll have a Scotch, straight up, and give them a round of whatever they want on me. Do the same for yourself there beautiful.” He said, the bartender’s smile showing she thought something of his good looks too.

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