A Fresh Start
A/N: First off, thank you all for all of the suggestions some of them could actually work for this story and some of them could work in another context. For now, let us see where this one goes and how everything develops between the leading ladies and the leading man.
Part One – A new day
I just finish sealing a box when I hear from the kitchen, "Dad, why are we moving, again?"
I sigh and hang my head, looking to the pictures on the mantle of my wife that died in the first wave of the siren assault, leaving me with an infant girl to take care of, I remind myself that was seven years ago now before I call back, "Cassidy, we are moving because I've been assigned to another base, this time as the base commander. You've got to come with me; because you're eight and I can't leave you Stateside on your own."
Turning around as I hear her foot steeps approaching, I feel a pang of despair as I look at her short blond hair and bright blue eyes; she looks so much like her mom did. She's got her hands on her hips as she says, "I bet Mrs. Brown would let me stay with her and Jenny, that way I wouldn't have to leave my only friend…"
Folding my hands in my lap while I rest on the back of the couch and look at the floorboards, I hated having to up-end her life right now… I guess it's the price of being in the service. Letting out a sigh before I run my hands through my closely cropped brown hair I say to her, "And that doesn't work. I'm going to be thousands of miles from here; I can't be in a place that has a time zone difference of six hours and be reachable if I'm needed for something."
Cassidy sighs and tosses her hands up in the air before she turns and stomps off upstairs yelling down at me, "It's like you don't even care about my life, I wish you had died and not mom!"
Hanging my head again, I sigh before looking back at the pictures on the mantle, at the picture of my late wife and say, "I wish you were here…"
Later that evening I'm outside Cassidy's door and I knock twice before I say to her, "Do you want to come out sweetheart? I made chicken strips and fires… your favorite; we can even eat in front of the TV tonight."
The door cracks open shortly after and I can see open boxes in her room, her dolls, Lego, stuffed animals, and books scattered around them. I push the door open a little and see her wrapped in the blanket her mom had made while she was pregnant with her, sitting in the corner, pulling books off of her shelf and tossing them haphazardly at one of the boxes. I sigh and start picking up items and putting them in the boxes as I say to her, "I'm sorry Cassie if we could stay, we would. The thing is I don't get much say in where I get posted."
She makes a sniffling sound as she pulled a book on the shelf and opened it, from my spot I can see what's in it, a picture of me and her pregnant mother, just after we moved into this house. I stop packing for her and scoop her up in a hug as I say, "Cassie, I wish your mom was here too, she was always better at this kind of thing that I am…"
"But when we leave, this won't be mom's home anymore…" she whimpers out.
Ah. I get it now; she feels a connection to her mother by being in this house…
After a moment I put her back down and kneel in front of her, putting my hands on her slender shoulders as I say, "Your mom would be the first to say that a house is just a building…"
I take my right hand off of her shoulder and I tap where her heart is and I continue, "But it's the people that make a house a home."
She bites her lower lip and nods before taking a deep breath and saying, "Can we put pictures of mom up at the new house?"
I give her a warm smile as I say, "Of course."
She moves quickly to wrap her arms around my neck before she says, "I'll try not to be mad… for the rest of the night."
I laugh before I say, "I'll take it. You want to grab a movie and meet me downstairs?"
After the movie, I carry Cassidy up to her bed and tuck her in for the night and head back down stairs to start reading over some of the files on my next assignment between packing. I feel so bad that I'm uprooting her life like this. I look up at the ceiling of the living room and sigh out, "I can believe she's already eight, not much longer before she starts puberty… How the hell am I going to deal with that?"
When no answer came I rubbed my face before going back to packing.
It was our last morning in this house, I was in the kitchen getting breakfast ready and I leaned back to see Cassidy sitting on the couch, her tablet in hand watching cartoons, and again I felt so guilty about my job taking us from Norfolk all the way across the world to a base in the south pacific near the equator. I hadn't told her that part, I knew she loved winters here, she loved the snow. As the smell of the French toast being fully cooked hit my nose, I grabbed her plate and sild two of the slices on to it, splitting them into triangles like I know she liked before I dust them with the last bit of powdered sugar and call for her to come and eat.
It's not long after breakfast before the trucks arrive to load up everything and take it to the base to be loaded along with us and other supplies to head out to the base that I'm going to be heading up. Cassidy's been good about this part of the trip, I always tried to avoid taking her on base when I could, so it was an 'adventure' to see the place where I used to work. The upside about these heavy long-range transports is that they have an upper deck for passengers with decent enough seats, but I will admit it's kind of spooky to be the only two up here aside from the crew of this plane.
About halfway into our fifteen-hour flight, Cassidy fell asleep against me, not that I blame her, it's a long trip and not a lot to do on this plane. While she's snuggled towards me in her chair I open my bag and take out the datapad I had been issued so that I can get an understanding of what I'm about to be taking on. As I start to scroll through I see that I'm going to be commanding a kansen base, I'd heard about them, ships that look like women, or was it women that could act like ships?
I scroll to the next section to get a breakdown on the population of the base and I note that we've got a solid support staff of these sentient chickens called manjuu as well as a healthy stock of Meowficers, those little puff balls really do creep me out a little… then I note that I will be the only male on base, well aside from some of the cats… My brow twitches slightly; I'd heard stories about how some kansen can become overly attached to humans, especially male humans. It makes me wonder if Cassidy will be okay there if she'll make any friends, be able to remotely do her school work.
Damn. Her schoolwork… I can't leave her home alone during my days; I'll need to bring her with me into the office. I sigh; this is going to be a complicated balancing act between my job as an Azur Lane officer and a single parent.
I go back to the nation breakdown for this base and take note that it seems to be an interesting mix of Eagle Union and Vichya Dominion. The Eagle Union assets do outnumber the Vichya by a good margin, like nearly fourteen to one. No sooner had I started to go through the profiles of those on the base then a crew member came by with a pair of meal trays, I pull down my table and put down my datapad as I wake up Cassidy and set her tray down.
Once she's awake she looks at my datapad and the profile I had open at the time before she says, "She's pretty."
I blink a couple of times before turning my attention to the datapad and notice the silver hair, purple-blue eyes; she was very attractive I had to admit. I look beside the picture and note that she is from the Vichya, she's a cruiser type and her name, well if I try to produce it, I'll likely butcher it, badly, Algérie.
Cassidy is quicker than I give her credit for and nabs my datapad and starts to scroll through, coming to another one and saying, "She's pretty too."
I take the datapad back and see that she's brought up another profile, another silver-haired beauty, though this one had rose-colored eyes, another from Vichya, a battleship type this time by the name of Dunkerque. I sigh and put the datapad down beside my tray and tell my daughter, "Cassidy, I have to work with these women, it's not a dating app."
Cassidy looks down, her shoulders slumping as she says, "I was just thinking Dad, that you might be lonely, that maybe you were looking for someone that might be my new mom."
Ouch. I know it's got to be hard for her not really having a female role model in her day to day life, but to hear that she is thinking about that kind of stuff really drives a dagger into my heart. I reach over and hug her shoulders as I say, "How I'm feeling isn't anything for you to worry about, so long as I can do what I can for you, that's enough for me."
Cassidy sighs and puts her head against my arm and tells me, "But Dad, there are things that I just can't or want to talk to you about, 'casue, well, you're a boy."
I sigh and hang my head, she had a point there, and in a few years, I'm really going to need a woman I can talk to or direct Cassidy to talk too. Cassidy looks up at me and says, "And I was thinking Dad, that your job is really demanding on your time so it might be hard to find someone who could be my mom, so maybe finding someone you work with would be best."
Again I sigh, dating in the military is difficult at best, downright tricky at worst, between all the rules and just finding someone you're compatible with, it's just hell. I pull her close and kiss the top of her head as I say, "How did I get so lucky to have a kid like you that is so worried about me."
She laughs and says, "Well, if you go, then I go to an orphanage… I don't want that."
Ugh. Another gut-punch… she was right though, my parents are dead, her mother's family is gone… it's just us at this point. It's also why I took this shore post so that I could care for Cassidy and not risk having to find a place for her to stay if I'm deployed at sea. Time for a bit of honesty with her it seems… I let go of her and take a fork full of the quote-unquote food that is on my tray before I say, "Cassy if I were to try and find someone to date, it'd be important to me that you like her too. What do you think she should be like?"
Cassidy is quiet for a few moments, chewing down some of the food before she says, "She needs to be pretty, smart, fun, and nice."
I sigh, that's a tall order… only person that I'd ever met that was all four and then some were her mother. I nod at her requirements before I said, "I'd want her to be all of those things too, but also like you too. If she doesn't like you, then I don't have time for her."
Cassidy lays her head against my arm and says, "Well that's a given Dad."
It's dark when the transport puts down on the runway, Cassidy is asleep again, I check my phone to see that the time has already adjusted to local, it was just after eight pm here, looking at my watch I saw that it was still set for home, a little after two in the morning… no wonder I'm feeling bagged and she's out cold. I pick up Cassidy in my arms and carry her off the plane.
Once I'm on the loading ramp, I see two women approaching me, one a tall blond in a white uniform, I rack my brain for a moment as I try and recall the profile, then it hits me when I see the badge on her arm North Carolina beside her was one of the two that my daughter had said were pretty, and well that picture didn't do her any justice, Algérie. Both women snapped to attention at seeing me, North Carolina was the first to speak, "Good evening Commander Wolf."
Algérie spoke a moment later, "Bonsoir Commandant Wolf, j'espère que votre vol était bon?"
I blink at her a couple of times, I took one French class in high school almost 12 years ago, she seems to pick up I don't understand and she repeats herself in English with a heavy French accent, "Good evening Commander, I trust your flight was good?"
I give both of them a soft, but very exhausted smile as I say, "It was a long flight, I'm sorry to cut this short today, but I need to get Cassidy into a bed."
"Of course Sir." Says North Carolina as she leads me to a jeep and gets into the driver's seat, I climb into the back and hold Cassidy close while Algérie gets into the passenger seat.
As we start driving through the base Algérie turns in her seat to say to me, "Your daughter is very pretty, will her mother be joining you at a later date?"
My face falls and Algérie's face turns bright red as I think she picked up right away before I said, "Sadly no, it's just me and Cassy. Her mother died almost a year after she was born."
"May I ask Sir as to why you took this assignment then?" asked North Carolina as she drove towards my living quarters.
"It's a simple reason… I had a choice between commanding a ship or a base. Being on a ship means I would be deployed for months at a time and I have no-one I could leave Cassidy with." I say to her as I feel my eyelids starting to get heavy.
I sigh and add, "For the first while it's going to be tricky, I'll need to bring her with me into the office, since she's not old enough to be left home alone for extended periods yet… and with no schools here for her to attend I don't have a choice."
When we come to a stop outside a massive building I ask, "Is this my quarters?"
"No Sir, I brought you to your office. All of your furniture is on the transport that brought you here, at least your office has a couch and I know where to find a cot." Said North Carolina as she started to get out of the jeep and walk up to the doors.
I sigh and follow along, all the way up to my office and I put Cassidy down on the couch and cover her with my jacket while the two kansen that were with us got a cot and some bedding from storage, I kneel beside Cassidy and brush her hair as I whisper, "Welcome home."
Morning came fast, doubly so when I felt someone nudging me while it was still dark. I roll to the side of the pushing to see Cassidy beside me, rubbing her eyes as she says, "Where are we Dad?"
I smile at her and I tell her, "My office, our house wasn't furnished yet when we landed so we came here so you could sleep."
She puts a hand over her belly and says, "I'm hungry…"
I nod and get out of my cot, rub my face, and head to the door as I say, "Let's go find some food then."
Flipping over my phone I see that it's nearly six in the morning local time, opening the door I see that the secretarial office is dark still, so I flip on a light switch and see a kitchenette just off to the side. I head in there and start to look through the cupboards, once I find a few cups of cereal, grabbing two, a pair of spoons, and some milk I bring back our breakfast feast to my office.
It's not long into eating when I hear the door to the secretarial office open and we hear a woman's voice with a heavy French accent call out, "Hello?"
"In here." I call back, twisting slightly to see a woman, no kansen I remind myself, with long silver hair, rose-colored eyes, a very nice figure and she had a basket under one arm.
She looked surprised to see both me and Cassidy eating pre-packaged cereal, I got the impression she wasn't happy to see that when she said, "Oh pour l'amour de ... At least eat something better than that!"
She crossed the room quickly and put down the basket, pulling off the cloth that was over the top to show something I wasn't totally sure what they were, she smiled at us as she said, "Le beignet. I baked them fresh this morning."
Cassidy was the first to reach in while our visitor sat down beside me, putting out her right hand towards me as she said with that heavy French accent of hers, "I am Dunkerque, 1st Division of the Line of the Vichya Dominion."
"Commander Daniel Wolf, and across from us is my daughter, Cassidy," I replied to her, making a gesture at Cassidy, to my surprise Dunkerque went bright red and stiffened up a lot.
It took her a moment before she apologized, "I'm sorry, Le commandant, it was improper for me to intrude…"
Across from us, my daughter stuffed another of these baked goods in her face as she said, "Dad, you've got to try these, they are amazing!"
I turn my attention back to Dunkerque and shake my head as I tell her, "It's alright. We got in last night and slept here since our quarters weren't ready when we landed."
Dunkerque nodded and looked around before she asked, "May I ask about the girl's mother?"
I sigh; I guess it's to be expected really. Cassidy puts down her third beignet, looking down at the table as she said, "I don't have a mom."
Again Dunkerque blushed out of embarrassment and moved to wrap Cassidy in a friendly hug as she said, "Oh mon Dieu, you poor thing!"
Dunkerque turned her attention towards me as she said, "Le commandant, if you need anything I am on rotation this month as your secretary, please do not hesitate to call on me for anything."
I give her a nod and finally get around to trying one of these things that were brought in, one bite and I know why Cassidy loves them so much, it's like a doughnut, but lighter and filled with a chocolate and hazelnut filling. After some time, Dunkerque leaves my office to get started on her day, once she is out of the room and the door is shut, Cassidy looks at me and asks, "Can she be my Mom? She's so good at baking…"
I can't help but laugh before I start to clean up my office from the treats.
Much later in the day, myself and Cassidy are walking up to my quarters to see if anything had been put away for us, once inside we see that the furniture has been placed, boxes are piled in the rooms where they belong and I feel a sense of renewal, this is going to be a fresh start for both of us.
Cassidy dashes upstairs to start getting her room squared away as I go to get started in the living room. I'm not in there for very long when there is a knock on the door, I put down the pictures that were in the box I had open and open the door to see Algérie standing there, a bottle of red wine in her hands and she says with a heavy French accent, "Bonsoir Commander, care to share some wine?"
I shrug and let her come on in before I head off to the kitchen to find some wine glasses; I know I have some… somewhere.
I search through a couple of boxes and come up empty-handed, but I do manage to find some mason jars. I shrug and head back with the glasses and Algérie gives a mortified look at the glasses as I say, "I've got wine glasses, I just don't know where they are."
She relaxes a little, putting down the bottle on the coffee table as she moves to start helping me unpack, the first thing that she lifts out of the box is a picture of me and Cassidy's mother. Her head tilts to the side as she says to me, "She was very pretty."
I nod as I say, "She was."
Algérie bends at her hips to put the picture on an end table before looking over her shoulder and asking me, "Has she been gone long?"
I sigh just before I open the wine and pour two glasses, sipping from mine I let the flavor wash over my tongue. I look down at the glass and let her know, "She died in the first wave of siren attacks; Cassidy was about eight months old when she died… so just over seven years ago now."
"Mon Dieu! Have you not had anyone in her life since then?" she asks me, I'm starting to wonder if she is fishing for information for some reason.
I'm about to answer when I hear footfalls on the stairs followed shortly by Cassidy's voice saying, "My best friend's mom Mrs. Brown… but Dad never had anyone sleepover or go for a sleepover anywhere."
Algérie covers her mouth and giggles before winking at me before she turns her attention to Cassidy crossing over to her and asking, "Do you like cute things? If so, someone must take you to the cattery, the meowficers are just wonderful to play with."
Cassidy looks at me, tilting her head to the side and I sigh, "Cats that can perform fleet duties…"
"Oui! And they have the most adorable little uniforms on." Added Algérie, she was almost bouncing on the balls of her feet while she held her hands together in the center of her chest.
Cassidy looked to me as she exclaimed, "Cool! I want to see that! Can we go, Dad?"
Algérie smiled at me, it was so warm and inviting as she said, "I can take you, I'm heading there myself, I like to end my day surrounded by something cute."
I sigh and shrug before I tell Cassidy, "Get your coat, let's go."
A/N: Chapter one done, I'm not sure which lady is going to find a spot in the hearts of both The Commander and Cassidy yet, but I like the idea of either Dunkerque or Algérie.