Log Title: Camping With The Witwickys

Characters: Lifeline, Spike, Daniel, NPC: Andy (Daniel's Friend)

Location: Campsite in the woods, Oregon, USA

Date: The weekend before Father's Day, June 2013

Summary: Just a beautiful weekend afternoon. The Witwicky father & son duo, Spike & Daniel, are enjoying a weekend of the great outdoors. Andy, Daniel's friend from school, is along for the journey. And then, Lifeline stops by for a visit.

OOC Note: There was more to this log, but unfortunately, a poor connection and power outage caused me to lose the first half of it. Here's what's happened just prior to the opening of this scene: Daniel & Andy go off on a hike, and Spike tells Daniel to use the GPS if he gets lost and to phone if there's any problems.

Spike then joins Edwin on the pier of the lake, and the two of them talk about their past and fish for a while. Then Edwin suggests that they take a short hike. They haven't gone far when Spike suddenly loses his footing, and slips off the mountain trail. He's quickly recovered by Edwin and doesn't appear to be physically injured; however, he then develops a panic attack, and he believes he's suffered a heart attack and is dying. Edwin treats him for the panic attack, administering a sedative to Spike and getting him to calm down.

As this log begins, Spike & Edwin have arrived back at the camp, and Daniel & Andy are still hiking in the woods. The scenes happen simultaneously, and the dialogue switches between the two, so hopefully this explanation will make the action easier to follow. (talk) 18:33, June 17, 2013 (UTC) doomflower

Mount St. Hilary
Mount St. Hilary

Mount St. Hilary

Mount St. Hilary is an active stratovolcano located in Hood River County, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is 100 miles south of Seattle, Washington and 50 miles northeast of Portland. Mount St. Hilary takes its English name from Hilary of Poitiers, who was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. Mount St. Hilary is famous for being the place where the Ark crashed on Earth. A catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1984, at 8:32 am PDT awoke the Autobots and Decepticons slumbering there, restarting the Cybertronian War. Since the 1984 eruption, greenery has returned to the slopes of St. Hilary, and the Autobot spacecraft has been extracted. Support buildings and a reinforced landing pad have been built outside the volcano, as well as the Mount St. Hilary National Volcanic Monument to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied. Inside the somewhat smoky interior of the mountain, the old caverns of the Ark Headquarters are still standing, the ground littered with volcanic ash, dust, and fossils of dinosaurs. It has been disturbed it seems, and it looks now lived in, with piles of collected parts and odds and ends stacked in careful groups all around, and one area now dust free almost completely, at the very back of the caverns in a small car-sized area. Someone has made this old place their new home

Once they return to the camp, Edwin looks around and notices the boys haven't returned yet. "Did you want to get a location-check on them, or just leave them be? They're not late, they still have plenty of time to return."

Spike shakes his head, still distracted. "No - I'll call them in about 30 minutes."

Spike begins to gather some twigs and branches for the fire later on. But he diverts to check to see if Daniel and Andy's tents are properly secured. Keep busy...Spike gives a slight scowl as he readjusts one of the tight bands Daniel set up for his tent. "Damnit, Daniel... I TOLD you specifically how to do this..." he says under his breath.

Edwin seems fine. He briefly checks his phones...his belt is like a smartphone utility pouch. Then he has a seat and watches Spike act busy. "Spike, what's wrong? Let the sedative work on you. Why are you charging around?"

Spike looks briefly at Ed, almost ashamed to look him in the eye. "Nothing...just...getting Daniel's tent setup correctly."

"Come on, Spike, we checked that earlier. Come here and tell me what's going on," Edwin urges.

Spike frowns, though Sparkplug will definitely be mentioned in 'father of the year' mentions, he definitely leaned on the 'tough it up' side of raising his son, albeit with a definite softy side. "I'm just... I'm sorry I freaked out earlier." Spike mutters "No fucking excuse for that..."

"There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed about," Edwin says pointedly. "The only reason *I* didn't freak out on you is because I've had years of high-risk missions and endless hours of rigorous training intended to shock the scare out of me. Your slip could have ended in a long fall. Facing your own mortality is the most sensible reason for a panic attack that I know."

Spike is fine with Edwin's reasoned discussion, but his eyes flash in anger as he hears the words 'panic attack'.

"...What? That's what it's called," Edwin says, looking lost at Spike's ire. "Would you rather I called it something else?"

Spike sits down and shoots an irritated look at Lifeline. "NO! I don't care it's just..." He stammers slightly "I... I have NO reason to get...'that'." He adds... "Those things are like...for people who've dealt with REAL trauma...or have an on-call shrink and yoga instructor." Spike mutters lowly "Dad would have my ass if he saw me 'spazzing' out like that. Daniel... he'd be embarrassed to see his dad 'wig out' in front of his friend." He sighs, still trying to process the impossible. He's the 'rock' of the family! Rocks don't get anxiety attacks.

"Not true! Quit being down on yourself, OK? Just don't do it. You *have* to be your own best advocate," Edwin insists. "There's nothing wrong with you. You're one of the strongest and bravest civilians I know, Spike. Who else would have the courage to befriend an alien race?? When I first saw an Autobot -- just an Autobot, not even a Decepticon, in real life, I nearly pissed myself in fear. True story."

Spike frowns, waving a hand. "I'm NOT... trust me." He adds "It felt SO real!" He shakes his head at Edwin. "You wouldn't've never suffered one of those. Yeah, you've seen them, but seeing and experiencing...two different things."

"Except I have had a panic attack before," Edwin says, putting his hand on Spike's shoulder. "I *know* how real it felt. I understand what you went through."

Spike doesn't jerk away from Edwin. He's pissy right now, but he's not a jerk. He looks at Ed. Calm, resolute, eternal in control Ed. "!"

"Yes. Me. I've been there," Edwin insists. "Absolutely." He doesn't seem too keen on recanting the story, but he'll admit to having gone through it.

Spike says, "So...what do I do next? Like...line up a shrink? Get on meds?" Of course, it may just be nothing."

"There's a chance it might not ever happen again," Edwin says. "Many times, those episodes are one-offs from extreme stress. If I were you, I wouldn't dwell on it. I mean, how often are you hiking up a mountain anyhow? Now if you had to do it all the time, there could be a problem, but honestly, you're fine, I wouldn't be concerned."

A final grin comes from Spike's face. " the way." Spike smirks slightly at Ed. "So, I don't have to break down in front of you and reveal that my father never loved me?"

"I'm glad I was able to help you out in your time of need," Edwin says pensively. "I know this probably sounds weird, but in my mind, you're closer to me than most of my family is. We're not related, but we're brothers in spirit." Spike's reveal gives Edwin a chuckle. "You have no obligation to pour your heart out, but I won't mind it if you do."

Spike continues to sit on the stump. "Thanks." He adds "I won't lie to you - you are a tough guy to read sometimes, but I'm honored to think that you consider me a friend. The feeling's more than mutual."

"So are you feeling better now?" Edwin asks.

Spike nods. "Yeah...I am - thanks." Spike adds briefly "When Daniel and Andy come...don't..." he trails off, but hoping Edwin knows to keep this shameful experience a secret.

"I won't say anything about what happened," Edwin promises. "Not a peep."

Spike grins. "Thanks." He relaxes. "How is... Ed?" He blinks, "Wow, that sounds weird."

"Ed is Zen today," Edwin says with a slight smile. "Ed is Zen everyday. But that comes with training. You get to canoodle with Autobots, and I get to train with ninjas. I guess that makes us both pretty awesome."

Spike gets up. "Well, I think I'm going to start gutting and cleaning these fish...sorry again, but the kids need protein, and Danno has never been a 'fish-gut' cleaning kid." He adds hopefully "You staying for dinner, or do you have to take off?"

"I can stay for dinner. If you kill them, I'll help gut them," Edwin offers. Gutting isn't violent if the fish is *dead*!

Spike grins. "They're already dead, try to make it as quick and painless as possible." He heads over to do the dirty work, leaving Ed a good place to depart.

"You're a fish killer, but I still love you, man," Edwin quips, hoping to put Spike in a better mood and not dwelling on the unfortunate part of the day.

Meanwhile, Andy and Daniel are hiking back. Andy still has a few hours to convince poor, naive, hero-overdosed Daniel to end this RIDICILOUS plan to visit this horrific place late at night. Andy gestures "See those clouds, I hope it doesn't rain tonight!" He pauses "But man, they sure look like it's going to come down, doesn't it?"

Spike goes to gut the fish he caught, hoping that his shameful breakdown won't cast him in a negative light to Edwin, since he's really starting to consider Lifeline a true friend now, especially since he was his protector, albeit briefly, nearly 25 years ago.

Daniel is all charged up about visiting the scary house. "We've got this IN THE BAG," he exclaims. "Look, if there's nothing scary in there, and there's no such thing as ghosts, then all we're doing is visiting an empty house. Right? There's no harm in it!"

Back at camp, Edwin seems to be taking everything in stride. Since cleaning fish is a nasty task, Edwin takes his shirt off for it. No, he isn't the bare-chested type; he does, in fact, wear a sleeveless undershirt to no great surprise. Now, there's no doubt about it -- conservative, quiet, shy Edwin has a tattoo. Just one, but he has one.

Andy scoffs "Dude! I wasn't saying there WAS - jeez, that's kid's stuff." He gestures "I was just pointing out there could be severe thunderstorms later!"

"But what if you say there's no ghosts, and then the E-Meter picks something up? What THEN? We're gonna have to check it out, that's all I'm saying. And if there's a thunderstorm, we'll just sleep inside the house. No biggie," Daniel says.

Spike glimpses at Edwin's chest. His devoid-of-pudge, chest. Spike shakes his his head, his inquisitive nature finally surfacing. "Ok...I'm sorry - I gotta ask - your tat... where did it..."

Andy frowns. "HELL NO!" He adds "a. This is someone ELSE's house, we're TRESSPASSING! Second - Jesus, give your dad a heart-attack why don't yah? He... he's doing a shitton for us - we don't need to be spitting in his face!" Andy adds "Want to know what MY dad did for me 2 weeks ago? He paid for my ticket to see Fast and Furious... while he and his girlfriend watched The Great Gatsby in another theater!"

Edwin hms?, and peers at his chest, as if completely forgetting he even had a tattoo. "Oh yeah, that's in memory of my partner of 5 years. Not my ex-wife, but my *EMS* partner with Seattle Fire & Rescue." There's no name inscribed, but it's a valentine heart-shaped outline, with a computer-screen green 'lifeline' of a beating heart crossing through it.

Back with Andy, Daniel remains unphased. "No one lives there, dude. No one's gonna care if we go take a look. And we're not looting the house, or spray-painting it or anything like that. We're just going to look at it, and leaving it untouched to nature. Right? JUST LIKE WALDEN."

Spike nods and says soberly "Right...your parter... he..uh... he died of complications from...that accident?"

Andy nods, getting defensive, "Yeah! ... unless... we get rained out - which I hope we don't!"

"Yeah, it took him an agonizingly long time. He circled the drain. And it wasn't 'clinging to life heroically'...I mean, he suffered. A lot." Edwin frowns. "We were off-duty one night when we came across a really dangerous highway situation. There were blizzard conditions, and while the road had been salted and plowed earlier in the day, there was a long patch of black ice leading up to the I-5 bridge. And the bridge was iced over, too. Cars were careening all over the place, carnage everywhere. We did what any paramedics would do...we got out and tried to help the victims. But it was dark, and slippery, and the cars kept coming. He was standing right next to me when he was hit by a skidding semi, and dragged beneath it halfway across the bridge. From that point on, he didn't get a fucking *dime* from Fire & Rescue. They just let him go to fend for himself. Apparently, they didn't find it within their budget -- or within their principles -- to pay the pensions of those injured while giving aid off-duty."

Daniel strolls along with Andy. "We are not gonna get rained out. We have a whole canopy of trees to act like our umbrella, anyhow. Think of it adventure, we HAVE to take!"

Spike just stands there and listens. He can't really say anything. What's worse - Ed's use of the 'f' - bomb - Spike routinely uses it, and as a result, its effect is slightly ebbed. But whenever Ed uses it, it's like a precisely-guided missile. His face even turns pale. "Again...Ed, I'm sorry...I know that doesn't mean anything...and you're probably used to hearing that." He pauses "He sounds...he sounds like he was an amazing friend."

Andy's face seems to practically melt in disappointment. Scratch rain. The only thing that will save him is if Daniel oversleeps... and the chances of THAT happening are...

"He was amazing. I met him in junior high, and we stayed best friends all through high school. Then we both went for our EMS certifications together, and got jobs with the city at the same time." Edwin remembers these things with a wistful smile. "I was his wingman, and he was mine. He helped me to survive some pretty bleak years. All the GOOD things I remember about being young were all memories I shared with him. Now, after he passed away, my Dad became unbearable and I had to get away from the situation, so that's when I joined the Army. I wasn't going to work for an outfit that treated their most dedicated employees like that. I guess you could say that my EMS partner was the reason for my becoming a Joe. From that point on, I burned like a firecracker, and I guess that one day, it got the attention of General Hawk."

Back over by Andy, Daniel stops, putting his hands on his hips. "Okay. Say we don't go to the house. So like...what do you wanna do instead? Sleep??"

Spike nods, listening empathetically. "Did you..." He sighs, looking up at the sky, trying to think of the words to say, like Prime would. He looks back at Ed. "When he was... after the accident - did you wind up caring for him?"

Andy frowns and takes two steps, getting into Daniel's face. Damnit, HE's the lead wingman! "Heyah, I'm all about doing this! Let's just make sure we get back though before your DAD wakes up. But yeah, bring it on!" Andy frowns "Don't forget, I'm 1.5 years older than you!"

"No, not very much. I mean, I still had rent to pay on my own apartment and such. I did try to help him and his wife whenever I could. They had just bought a house prior to the accident, so I visited a lot, but medically speaking, there wasn't a lot I could do for him. His wife took over his nursing duties as best she could, but once he left the hospital, he was too much for her to care for -- just didn't have enough functionality -- so he ended up in a nursing home, and eventually a hospice. His wife had to pay everything -- all the medical bills, the round the clock care and the funeral bill. The total bill would be...oh, I don't know, up in the millions of dollars THESE days, but back then it wasn't quite as bad. Even so, she was forced to declare bankruptcy, had her car repossessed, and ended up in foreclosure, through no fault of her own."

Daniel leans up toward Andy, then grins. Check-MATE. Right where he wanted him. "OK, fine, we'll go then!"

Spike looks on at Ed in total disbelief. He gulps and says "Were you...angry with her - for leaving him?" He adds "I, you sound like you understood...but what about THEN when you were in the thick of it."

Andy moves ONE step closer to 'chest-thumping' range. "Good! Yah damn child!" But the line is delivered so poorly, Daniel's probably going to laugh.

"Oh, I wasn't mad at her," Edwin insists. "Her life was brought down by forces over which she had no control. And she just didn't have the physical ability to care for a completely invalid, fully grown man. Maybe you or I could do it, but not everyone can. And he had zero control of bodily functions, was in constant pain and screamed in the middle of the night -- these things just tore her apart as a person. Her dream for a happy life with him was completely shattered. No, if I was mad at anyone or anything, it was the system that denied him adequate care, that abandoned a dedicated worker." Edwin stretches. "Or, as I thought of it, the bureaucratic system that killed my best friend."

Meanwhile with the boys, Andy's attitude puts Daniel in the mood for a little scrapping. He's not a bad kid, but Daniel needs to work off some energy now and again. "Oh yeah? Child? You think so? Come and get it," he laughs.

Andy explodes, having some energy to fend off from his own. But unlike his dad, who he would love to deck right in the face this week, he opts for a tackle - to send Daniel RIGHT into the (soft, mulchy) ground. "THAT'S IT!" *oof!*

"Aaah! Dork," Daniel frets, but he's not at all angry -- this is a friendly feud, and he's definitely not bringing the hurt, though he is looking to 'conquer and pin', if at all possible. It's going to be tough, as Andy is definitely stronger, but Daniel's optimistic right out of the gate.

Spike doesn't say much after that. He then looks at Lifeline and nods somberly " were a good friend." He adds "You...HEAR of these stories...but when they actually HAPPEN." He adds "Dad... after his heart-attack, we HAD to put him in the nursing home - I was...fully engaged with the Autobots, Buster was with school." He adds "But - fortunately, he was able to recover enough that he managed to get OUT."

Andy gets to the ground low - wrestler style - and tries to scoop Daniel into an impossible to break pin ala WWE. Looping Daniel's leg through his two hands, he manages to 'lock' it into place. "HA!!! ONE....TWO....!" ... and MUCH to Carly's dismay... Megan will be doing this EXACT same thing when she's around 13. Andy's anger is getting a much-needed vent. "You can't skate for jack, now you can't wrestle for jack either!" but again, his delivery is so overboard, it'll just rile Daniel up more probably.

"That's always a good thing. Gaining independence back should always be an aim of those nursing facilities, but sadly, many are more like babysitting services," Edwin admits. Once he's finished cleaning the fish, he washes off a little bit in the lake water, but only uses 'splashes' of water and doesn't jump in. Too many gross things grow in lakes. "They are improving over time, AND as the population gets older."

Daniel does one of those ridiculous seizure-looking 'pin shakes' that the TV wrestlers do at the last moment, to avoid a pin. "I still got fight, man. The animal lives! The animal breathes!!" Daniel grins widely, then grips Andy's leg and tries to force him into a tumble-roll. If only he can get on top, he might be able to pin!

The two reckless teens tumble down the incline until it the two finally come to a definitive 'halt' - and unfortunately for Andy, Daniel's in a perfect position with Andy's shoulders firmly planted on the ground. "AHHH!!!"

"One, TWO...! THE BELL DID YOU JUST HEAR THE BELL!! VICTORY!!!" Daniel laughs, then gets up and offers Andy a hand-up. Both of them are *filthy* dirty. Back at camp, a faint 'VICTORY' can be heard from the woods, and Edwin arches a brow.

Spike blinks and says calmly "The fuck was that?!" Damn - ANOTHER eff-word!

Andy - for a brief second, EXPLODES in anger. Daniel can probably see it erupt. He's NOT kidding. The hurt of loss - just piled with his dad. "Goddamn sonofa..." He then instinctively takes a very wet clop of mud and throws it DIRECTlY at Daniel's face. But that flash of anger - 4-5 seconds of genuine, burning anger, quickly evaporates as he sees

Daniel's face get a direct hit. Andy pauses and quickly begins to giggle, then laugh uncontrollably.

Spike looks at Lifeline. "OK...that was a yell, but it didn't SOUND like a distress..." This MAY give Daniel another example of the current Witwicky mode of diplomacy. Does he retaliate - which in street-justice culture would be considered justified...or take a mud ball to the face for the greater good?

The sudden fear in Daniel's eyes will probably remain in Andy's memory for a while, even though it only lasted for around 5 seconds -- until the mud gets in his face. Then Daniel begins laughing, too, in relief. "Relax, man, I'm playing! It's not serious. Just relax," he says, grinning. His teeth and eyes are the only bright spots on his face, it looks goofy. And yeah, he's trying to disarm Andy's rage with humor, so he doesn't retaliate in kind.

"Sounded like the boys," Edwin remarks as he puts his flannel shirt back on. "I think they're on their way back to camp."

Andy laughs as well and puts his arm around Daniel (no homo!) as a comrade. Fortunately at this age, boys can still do that without fear of being made fun of. Giving a slight big-bro squeeze at Daniel's shoulder, he walks with him back to camp. "You are SUCH a fucking dork sometimes!" Andy grins, but inside, his stomach burns in shame as for a quick, brief flash, he wanted to beat Daniel senseless.

"I think my wrestling name should be Mudman," Daniel says, bro-hugging Andy back. They make for an interesting sight as they return to camp.

"Is that Daniel under all that mud?" Edwin laughs.

Spike gives an exasperated, but not really irritated sigh. "Jeezus, guys..." He rolls his eyes and points "Swimming lake - BOTH of you - there are some clean towels in my tent. Give your clothes a good scrubbing too." The lake is close, but out of view from Spike/Lifeline to avoid any creepiness. He readies the fishing pan by heating it, dinner should take about 30 minutes to prep.

After picking up a few towels, Daniel then bounds away gleefully to cannonball into the lake. "C'mon, Andy! Let's gooooo!"

Edwin chuckles as the boys head to the lake to clean up. "I don't remember having that much fun when I was his age," he admits.

Spike smiles and looks on. "Neither do I..." He adds "I mean, the Autobots were... a blast - but that was always squeezed into something like seeing Prime almost die - seeing my dad captured and brainwashed." Spike finishes cooking up the fish. Spike, ever the aspiring cook, manages to find a few spare thyme and basil leaves around to add some spice to the dishes.

"How'd you manage to find herbs out here? Are you one of those backyard harvesters?" Edwin asks, clearly impressed. He hopes there aren't any bears nearby, because surely, they'll stop in later to try some themselves.

Back in the pond, Daniel's having a blast swimming around. "Hey, you know who that guy is at the camp? The one who was talking to my Dad?" he asks Andy.

Spike grins and says modestly "You just... you kind of..." he adds "Dad taught me."

Andy plunges down in the water and resurfaces. He gives a surprised look at Daniel. "Dude... YOU'RE your dad's son - how the hell would 'I' know?!"

Andy gets out - in the buff - and runs to get a towel. "Don't be checkin' me out! Otherwise I'll start callin' you Steve!" He quickly dries off and gets his clean clothes on, but he quickly imagines his brother chastizing himself for making such a dumb, ignorant homophobic remark. He curses himself under his breath "Dumbass, why the hell did you say that?" - out of Daniel's hearing.

"I don't know! I thought maybe you mighta seen him or something. I feel like I seen him before...somewhere. Like on TV" Daniel shrugs, then peers down into the water. "I wonder if there's alligators in here," he wonders. "Whoah! You're streaking!" He laughs, getting a big kick of a streaking Andy.

"Very clever, Spike, what can I say," Edwin remarks. "I wouldn't have taken your Dad to be an urban forager."

Spike grins and laughs "Neither would he!" Spike finally gets everything ready. After the anxiety attack, he's stone cold sober. Perfect time to grab his second beer. In front of the kids? Sure - they're adults. He gives an appreciate smile at Edwin. "Thanks...for coming - I'm glad you came."

Andy shrugs, "I dunno - never seen him before." He walks up to the two adults. Andy turns on the charm "Anything I can help with, Mr. Witwicky?" Spike gestures to the cooler "Just get your sodas and you're set." And then the two meet. Proving chilvary isn't dead, Andy walks up to Edwin and extends his hand like a job applicant. "Hi, I'm Andy." Seen in the tabloids? Divorcing a high-profile heiress? Or saving a village from Cobra?

"Well, hello Andy, nice to meet you, I'm Edwin," the doctor greets Andy, giving his hand a shake.

After picking out a Coke from the cooler, Daniel suddenly realizes where he's seen Edwin before. "Wait! WAIT. I know you! I knew I did -- you're Bryce's doctor, aren't you??"

Edwin reacts with some surprise, giving Spike a grin for having such a clever son. "...Why yes, I did work on the Pediatric ward at Seattle Memorial a number of years ago. I did treat your friend Bryce."

Andy tilts his head "Bryce? Oh yeah!"

Spike dishes out the fish for everyone - along with...well - chips - kettle chips - showing it's not ENTIRELY an organic fest. Spike takes a sip of beer. "Yeah... Ed's a good friend of mine. He..." He looks at Ed and can't help but chuckle. "Well... he helped me recover was briefly...BRIEFLY in Motormaster."

Andy almost spittles his Coke from hearing that. "WHAT?!"

Spike nods to Edwin. "He successfully did a full-rewire on me. Got me to walk again, talk... " He doesn't mention GI Joe since that may be top secret.

"Oh yes, that was extremely serious," Edwin says, much more into enjoying his meal than thinking about anything medical.

Daniel nods to Andy. "I'm remembering this now, though some of it happened off base so that's why I didn't really remember a lot of it. But some of the things that have happened to, we could tell stories all night."

Spike smiles slightly at his son. He knows the rules - no robbing the spotlight. He'll shut up on the mind swap.

Andy smiles at Edwin. "So, you're a doctor?"

The GI Joe thing for Lifeline is kind of like a secret-everyone-knows, but no one talks about. If people know about it, they know; it's not like the government's going to come after them for knowing. Edwin needs to be prompted to discuss it at all, however. "Yes. Well, I began as a paramedic, which only takes like, 2 years of training. Those are the ambulance drivers," he explains to Andy. "And then I joined the army...and I had a career with them for some time. Eventually, I went to medical school for about 10 years, and became a doctor and surgeon."

Andy grins at Edwin. "Cool... That sounds like an awesome job... helpin' people."

Spike looks at Daniel and Andy. "So...what the hell happened to both of you? Did you get into a fight?"

Andy gulps and gives a conspiratorial look at Daniel.

"Fight?? Dad, we're *friends*, why would we fight? We just found some mud." Daniel grins. Clearly, no grudge is being held.

"Helping people is a rush like no other," Edwin admits to Andy, his heart struck at how much the moment is like the time he influenced Spike all those decades ago. "Some people like office jobs better, but really, there's no comparison to being a hero."

Spike smirks "Well, you two look like you both came from Woodstock '94." He waits for the laugh.

Andy looks on in slight awe at Edwin and nods readily, "No doubt!" - another role model to latch onto who is NOT his father.

Daniel laughs, then he suddenly stops and eyes his father with suspicion. "...Wait, was that the one with no bathrooms?"

Edwin nods and tells Andy, "If you're interested, though, these are the years to do well. School can actually help you, if you show that you care and you have a plan."

Spike shakes his head, "I think ALL of them were like that, but I think you may be thinking of '99 - when the entire place burned down to the ground?" He looks around, enjoying the few hours sans technology. "This is nice... glad everyone got a chance to clear their schedule to do this."

"Just so long as you're not saying we look like we came from the Woodstock where everyone rioted and the bathrooms didn't work and drugs were all over the place," Daniel says.

"Sorry, Daniel, that was all of them," Edwin laughs.

Andy nods in agreement to Lifeline. "Well, my GOAL is to do skateboarding full-time, but I know you need a backup plan."

Spike adds "But ESPECIALLY '99. The '60s and the '90s one at least TRIED to be about 'peace' and 'harmony'" Spike looks at Andy and Daniel "Obviously I'm not going to be able to impose a curfew on you two troublemakers... but we're heading out at 5:30 tomorrow so we can get back home by 5."

"Andy, it never hurts to have a *few* plans. I know people are probably always asking, 'What is it you want to DO when you grow up??' As if you can have it all figured out one day. And the truth is, people are more complicated than that." Edwin takes a long drink of water. "Have more than one idea in mind, that's all I'm saying."

"That's so early, can't we make it 8?" Daniel tries.

Spike looks at Daniel "That'd mean 8 p.m. getting home - and I've got a few things I need to turn in for Crosscut tomorrow." He adds "You guys can sleep on the way back."

Andy brushes some long hair from his eyes. He nods in understanding at Lifeline. But as a former lost soul himself, Ed MAY see a glimpse of that restless anger in Andy's eyes. "Yes sir - " Andy says at Lifeline's sage advice.

"Okay...c'mon, Andy..." Daniel begins trudging back toward the tent. "Good to see you again, Dr. Edwin!"

Edwin peers at Andy with interest, then nods. "Nice to meet you, Andy, and it was good to see you again, Daniel."

Spike can't help but grin, not in self-satisfaction, but in appreciation - just for how lucky he has things. He nods again to Edwin. "Thanks...for everything today."

Edwin can't think of a more perfect day, save for a few epic times he's had in the past, and...well, his honeymoon night wasn't too shabby, either, but...this day is about as perfect and wonderful as any he's had in quite some time. "Well, thank you for all of your listening, and your understanding. We tackled some heavy topics today."

As the sun sets, Spike throws some more fire on the campfire. He switches to water after his one beer. He'll be tired enough driving tomorrow, he doesn't need a hangover on top of it. He sits down and stares thoughtfully at the fire. "Dad and I used to do this all the time."

"Your dad used to take you camping??" Edwin asks, looking amazed. "Mine wouldn't ever do that. However...I was in the Boy Scouts for a few years, and I loved that."

Spike blinks and looks at Edwin. "Sorry...I know your's just..." He looks on. "It's just something I probably won't be able to do with him anymore." He nods. "Yeah... he'd let Buster spend the weekend with his aunt and uncle... not that dad didn't WANT Buster along, but his aunt and uncle are more like what mom was - full of books, board games, that stuff. Buster was as excited as I was."

"That's cool." Edwin grins, feeling content. "There's something about returning to nature, about returning to a quiet place, that resets the soul and puts one at ease."

Spike nods, "That it does." He adds, "Dad..." He pauses and shakes his head. "Sorry, force of habit." He then takes a stick and impales it on a marshmallow.

"I don't get all weird when you mention your Dad, do I?" Edwin asks, raising a brow. "Because I really like your stories."

Spike shakes his head. "'s just... whenever I hear about YOUR's - it just feels like bragging, which I totally don't want it to be." He adds "Just - sometimes it's hard since it was just him and I for so long."

"Don't feel bad, Spike, remember that we came to a truce of sorts. When I go over there now, it isn't happy fun time at the Steen house by any means, but we don't fight. It's about the happiest resolution we were able to make. Anything I tell you about how he used to in the past. It's old news, history." Edwin stares into the fire.

Spike nods. " had to be hell growing up alone - I mean, you had your sister, but you were protecting her. He adds "I was just saying - dad almost made it mandatory to take me camping regularly to keep from getting TOTALLY sucked up in the Autobot stuff."

"That's true. That's pretty much what it was, day in and day out. And back then, the teachers would see the blood, the bruises, black eyes, limping from being knocked around...they wouldn't say a word. Which is the opposite of how it is today, thank heaven." Edwin glances over at Spike. "Your dad was right to keep you out of some of that business. An alien war brought to Earth is a bit much for a young man to deal with, without having time out to be a kid."

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