Category Archives: Finding Derek

US101: Careening

Kerri was a crazy driver—Derek had forgotten about that. He tried not to grip the passenger seat as they careened through traffic towards North Beach. Her liberal use of merging lanes and off-ramps for passing made it difficult to focus on conversation, but Kerri didn’t seem to notice and jabbered away in spite of Derek’s short answers.

“Meanwhile, Leo and Blair are dating,” she said, cutting off another baby blue Prius amid a chorus of honking. “They think they’ve been hiding it well, but it’s so obvious. Pretty much our entire graduating class knows about it—I mean, we were dying for those two beautiful people to get together, so how could we not know?”

Derek just nodded curtly, hands purposefully calm and lax on his knees. He couldn’t string together an opinion on this development in his best friend’s life, not in the jarring discomfort of this car.

“But that being said, really? Really, Leo? Dating Jay’s ex? I mean, sure, it’s been five years, but still… I guess that’s Blair’s problem, too. Not that she and Jay were ever going to last. You didn’t think they’d last either, did you?”

Derek shrugged noncommittally with his eyes still on the road. He took a deep breath. “Where are we going exactly?”

“One of the restaurants on the waterfront,” she answered. Glancing at him, she seemed to finally notice something was wrong. “Why?”

“Pull over. I’m going to drive.”

SFO: Welcome home

(A/N: today’s writing. Pretty terribly written, but I wasn’t sure where it was going for most of it. Some of the descriptions at the beginning aren’t half bad… the lack of overall coherence is just to be expected from a straight shot of writing…)

Derek stepped off the plane at San Francisco International Airport and took a deep breath of American air. He could still feel the haze of Bangkok pressing at his temples, but the epileptic memories were fading fast now that he was back on home soil.

He had one carry-on bag and no luggage. He breezed through Customs, keeping his answers short and to the point. Wasn’t this all a formality anyway? Someone, somewhere, saw his passport scanned into the system and instantly approved his passage into the United States. Derek silently thanked this unknown entity and shouldered his bag through the last gate.

Out in the civilian jumble that was the greeting area outside Customs, Derek paused to fish his cell phone out of the depths of his pack and turn it on. There were three people he needed to call: Lieutenant Evans, Leo, and Erica. Well actually, there were a hell of a lot more than three people he needed to call; it was imperative that he call those three. The welcome screen on his phone did a little song and dance, but before it finished searching for signal, he heard a voice behind him calling his name.

“Derek! I’m your ride—don’t call anybody! Derek!”

His heart skipped a beat—Erica? But he turned and found, not the girl he would classify as the love of his life, but Kerri skipping towards him. He barely had time to cover his disappointment and re-sling his bag before Kerri tackled him in a hug and nearly knocked him over.

“Oh my God!” she exhaled. “You’re finally back! I didn’t believe Evans at first when she sent me the orders.”

“Hi,” he laughed, staggering under her weight and trying to right himself without whacking her with his bag. Who knew one piece of luggage would suddenly become so cumbersome?

Kerri finally let him go and patted his cheeks in a mocking way. “You’re as tan as you were at the Academy. What’d you do, laze around in the sun all day?”

He smiled and shook his head. “Not exactly.” He took a step back to size her up. “You’re looking pretty tan yourself. Norcal’s been that sunny lately?”

“Nah, Mexico.” She hooked her arm in his and started directing them towards the elevator and LONG TERM PARKING signs. “Now before you ask, Erica’s doing well. But she doesn’t know you’re back yet—I’m the only Archipelago who knows, and Evans wanted it that way.” Before he could ask why, she continued. “A lot’s been going on since you left, and things aren’t exactly in great shape, socially. So you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to have a fancy dinner and talk until you’re all caught up.”

This idea set him off laughing—some part of him had hoped he would see Erica immediately and they would head off to a candlelit dinner, but instead he got Kerri and a long talk sanctioned by Lieutenant Evans. Kerri watched him laugh, politely confused as Kerri always looked when she didn’t know what was going on. Finally, Derek let out a long sigh and rolled his shoulders back. “Okay. Fancy dinner. But I don’t have anything to wear.”

Kerri scoffed. “You think Evans didn’t send you a nice tux for this whole production?”

They looked at each other and burst out laughing, relieved to be in the company of best friends.