An Old Dog’s Retirement
Admiral Lavoie cursed softly beneath his breath as he eased himself into the stiff leather of his seat. At the sturdy age of forty-six he should not have had to move as if he were made of glass and under normal circumstances that would have been the exact case. As it was though a rather unfortunate…altercation involving a careless soldier and a damn excellent example of a sniper had left him tender in more places than he cared to count and his joints aching.
Better the stiffness of his muscles though than the ditch one of his own had rolled the enemy sniper into. He chuckled softly to himself as he reached for the pain medication tucked safely away into one of his drawers. Out of sight was out of mind, but there were just some days that his body screamed for the relief of a few pills to the point that it became all his mind could focus on. He hated the damn things, had told Doc as much when she had dropped them into his hand, but in her typical fashion she had threatened to have him stuck behind his desk for the next ten years if he refused them.
Of course, as it would turn out, her threat would do little good in the end. Much as he would like to deny that his age was catching up to him the fact of the matter was that it was. He didn’t bounce back from his injuries like he used to and even though he fought to keep his body in peak physical condition it just wasn’t the same as when he had been a spry twenty-year-old. Maybe it was about time that he listened to all those voices that kept telling him it was time to retire.
Brass wanted him gone on the off chance that he became senile in his age and caused a public relations wreck. Lord forbid his body, one that he would like known could easily be the envy of other men half his age, interfere with how well he could handle himself on the field. Honestly, he could give a rat’s ass about what they wanted at this point. Brass was all about the red tape and public image though…well, when the same suggestions of retirement after his injury came from the mouths of friends the tune changed.
There was, of course, the concerns of his children as well. Lavoie felt himself soften ever so softly at the thought of eyes as stormy as the ocean and a stubbornness that nearly rivaled his own. He had always shrugged off any questions of his safety in the past, but his damn injury had finally given his ragtag bunch their much needed proof that it was time to leave. The arguments had long ago transferred from being a question of possibilities to the realm of had happened.
Maybe John was right. Maybe it was time to settle in for a much deserved retirement. There was no denying that he would have preferred to wait a few more years, maybe when he was closer to sixty, to retire, but given the extent of his injury there was a snowball’s chance in hell for that. Chances were that he would spend the rest of his life using that damn cane which meant he would be kept off the field. If he was kept off the field his days would be nothing but paperwork and administration duties.
Lavoie had given so much of his life to the Alliance that leaving would be like carving out a chunk of his own flesh, but it would have driven him stark raving mad to be stuck behind a desk for the rest of his life. Retirement at least meant that he could do what he pleased with what was left of his years. He had two daughters that he could watch grow up, and four unruly sons reaching the cusp of their adolescence that would need him to keep them on the straight and narrow.
He could just picture them now. John would have grinned at him with a barely contained smugness to his eyes, but the relief in his eyes wouldn’t go unnoticed. Jane would have been more open with her agreement to the decision with a grin so wide it would split her face. Scott would let out a holler so loud it’d piss the neighbors off and toss a giggling Evie into the air. Callum…well, sometimes Callum was a mystery to even him. Never spoke much, but he would put down fifty credits on finding the kid sticking around him more. Veit would probably be the only one upset by the thought, but that was more an issue of culture than anything.
Three sharp knocks against his door broke him from his thoughts. His first impulse was to reach for the gun kept in his drawer but the voice that called his name shortly after eased the tension from his hands. He had forgotten that Major Alenko was preparing to take leave later in the afternoon to Vancouver. His mind had become so addled with his own troubles that he had forgotten his traditional conversation with his once student.
Major Alenko was one of few military personnel that could lay a claim to a thriving marriage and a healthy family that did not remain on one of the Alliance bases. Their line of work did not often leave for the healthiest of relationships and all too often those who could claim to having children also had to admit to being divorced as well. It wasn’t particularly the fault of any party, but the life that they led was a lonely one.
Lavoie had only been a Major himself when Alenko had come under his command. He’d taken a liking to his determination, but his ability to lead while following orders as well. It was rare to come across a soldier that could play to the tune of both, and Lavoie had been determined to develop on that skill. Before his children, Alenko had served as a surrogate son of sorts though there was only a thirteen year age difference between them. Even after he had moved on to another unit, he’d kept tabs on the young male and vice versa.
“Major Alenko.” Lavoie interlaced his fingers and set his elbow upon the desk as the man stepped into his office. He greeted the male with a slow grin before gesturing to an empty seat in front of him. “I nearly forgot that you’d be flying out for shore leave today. A month with the Missus and Kaidan this time, right? You’ve deserved it after all the hard work you’ve been putting in lately.” They both knew that there was more behind his extended shore leave, but he would not press his subordinate on the issue. “How old is your boy now?”
“He turned eighteen just a few months ago. I’m hoping that he’ll join the Alliance soon.” Alenko shifted in his seat after a moment, his fingers twitching ever so slightly. It was a subtle tell, one that Lavoie had picked up only after a month of observation. His former student was a man that respected privacy and held his tongue until he could put his thoughts into tangible words when in the presence of a superior. He probably didn’t even notice it himself.
Raising an eyebrow, the Admiral pushed his thoughts forward with a single question, “Something wrong, Alenko?” The corner of his lips twitched a little as he watched the younger male stiffen for a moment before relaxing. It was easy to forget that their camaraderie had built itself into a bond that spanned over the entirety of his military career when they were taken from the field and instead shoved into a setting where rank was all too obvious.
“I heard, Sir, that you were considering reti – “
With a raised hand, Lavoie cut the male off and spoke in an even tone, “I have thought it over some, and I don’t see much of any other way. It’s unlikely that my leg is going to ever heal properly which means I’ve got that cane to look forward to the rest of my life. If I stay I’m going to be stuck at this desk job permanently, and…” He allowed himself a mischievous grin. “…we’ve seen how that turned out. Besides, I’ve got my kids to consider too, and I think it’s about time they become my new focus. No other distractions.”
Alenko was perhaps one of few people that Lavoie felt comfortable discussing matters of family with. It was not that he was ashamed of the children he had taken under his wing, but he rarely had the patience for the bullshit and peculiar looks others gave him for it. His business was his own and even if Alenko found his family to be rather odd himself, he at least did not question his standing for it. Perhaps one of the few that knew his family had come first to him anyways regardless of regulations.
“Well…” There was some hesitance to Alenko’s voice as he folded his hands. “Have you considered where you’re going to retire to yet?”
As a matter of fact he hadn’t. For a moment he was tempted to question why he would feel the urge to retire anywhere but where his family had settled in before it hit him. With an injury like his he could quite easily lead a full life but the current environment that housed his family would make it difficult. A miserable place year round, there was perhaps a handful of days in the year that qualified as sunny. The cold would only irritate his injury and the almost constant snow and rain would make it difficult to be independent.
At the time it had been ideal. The children were kept in nation-state that had begun to thrive since Earth’s entrance to the galaxy, but remained well out of the reach of the populace. It had cost him a pretty penny to purchase their small property isolated from the others, but it was worth it. He wanted the children to live with no short comforts available to them, but he also wanted them kept out of harm’s way should anybody decide to turn their wrath to his family.
With his retirement though would it be necessary to remain where they were though? Callum, for rather obvious reasons, did not function very well in the cold despite the numerous accommodations made for him. The children often complained that the hour car ride it took to arrive at their academy was a hindrance, and that they had hated their lacking ability to socialize. With a retirement he could expect to be left well enough alone, and from the home he could keep an eye on the children himself.
“I admit, I haven’t really given it any thought. It is about time we moved though. Maybe somewhere warmer, a little more populated than the countryside.” A soft light came to his eyes as he complained with a gentle tone, almost having forgotten that he was speaking with the Major, “Maybe that’ll get those rascals off my back.” This time he snorted. “Give kids the world and they still want more.”
Alenko’s easy laughter joined his own and the two watched each other with understanding grins. Despite the…differences between their families, there were some things that always rung true, and they both knew the other would always give to his family without a second’s thought. “Why not Vancouver? It’s warm, education system is decent. There’s even a beach and plenty of new people for the kids to meet with tourist season. Besides, as I recall you rather enjoyed your last stay there with us.”
Lavoie could not hide his expression of surprise at the suggestion. While it was true that he had rather enjoyed his stay with Alenko’s family in Vancouver, had even off handedly commented that it’d be a good place to take his family for a few months, he hadn’t expected his subordinate to offer the territory himself. There was no denying that they were good friends, Alenko had even spent a few weeks of shore leave with his own family, but it was another thing to offer this.
In his own way, Alenko was giving him his own way of keeping in contact with both an old friend and the Alliance. Before his children, the Alliance had been Lavoie’s life. His childhood had consisted of a distant relationship to absent parents and a cycle of being passed around from relative to relative. He’d gotten into some bad things in his youth, but the Alliance had straightened him out. The Alliance had fixed him in a way no human could and the friends that he had made here were more of a family to him than his blood relatives.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have been surprised that Major Alenko would suggest he retire to Vancouver. He’d mentored and served as a secondary father figure to him during his time with the Alliance. Alenko came to him with the troubles too dark to bring home, and Lavoie reminded him of why they did the things they did. Obviously they would have kept in touch after his retirement, but this was a more convenient way of handling things.
“Vancouver, huh?” The Admiral glanced to the photo on his desk, tracing a finger alone one of the six faces beaming back at him. “I’ll consider it.” With a labored breath and only the slightest wince, Lavoie forced himself to stand and reached across to shake Alenko’s hand firmly. “But shouldn’t you be on a ship back to see your Missus instead of talking to this old dog?” They shared another laugh, amused by the understanding that though he may be an old dog his bite was a vicious thing, before Alenko ducked out of his office with a nod of the head and he sunk back into his seat.
Vancouver…well, why not?