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Rally is © Me
Dylan is © Dylan Rinald
Striker is © Gerhard Naudé

"To Test the Strength of Friendship"

Story is © 5-27-01 by David Reynolds

"Friendship is fragile and easily shattered, but it's not so easily mended." ~ Rally

Setting: Briefing Room, RRMC.

Rally is sitting alone at a table, a somewhat angered expression on his face.  He hears footsteps from behind him but pays it no attention.  A hand on his shoulder causes him to jump and spin around in his seat.  To his surprise, Striker is standing over him.

Rally: Striker?  You startled me.

Striker: Sorry.  Listen, I just talked to Dyl and he says you're upset with him.

Rally: Yeah, well, he was saying some pretty radical things about me and I kinda went off on him.  Now that I think about it, I was probably too harsh on him.

Striker: Why not apologize?

Rally: I want to, but I don't know what to say.  Besides, after all I said, he might not listen.

Striker: Did he apologize to you?

Rally: Yeah.

Striker: Did you accept it?

Rally: I told him I'd have to think about it.  I'm gonna have to cool down a little before I can think straight.

Striker: Well try to take this into account: He's having some real emotional problems right now.

Rally: Oh, well I guess that's understandable.  But why take his frustration out on me?

Striker: Sometimes when people get upset, they don't think clearly and lash out at people for no apparent reason.  I'll bet that if you sit down with him and talk to him in a calm and caring tone, he will understand.

Rally: I can't face him right now.  I mean, part of me is still upset, but the other part of me really wants to apologize to him.  I'm just too mixed up right now.

Striker: Would you like me to go talk to him first?

Rally: Yes, I think that would be better.

Striker: OK, I'll go see how he's doing.

Rally: Thanks, bud.

Striker: No problem.

Striker walks off as Rally stands and heads out a set of double-doors, which leads to the front of Mission Control.  He sits down on the top step, folds his arms across his lap, and hangs his head.

Rally (Thinking): I can't believe I went off on Dylan like that.  He's a good friend with a kind heart, how could I have done something so stupid?  I feel like such an ass.

Rally sits there for a few minutes more before Striker walks out to find him on the steps.

Striker: Rally?

Rally turns around, then stands up and approaches Striker.

Rally: Well?

Striker: He wants to talk to you.  Now remember that he's under a lot of stress right now, so try not to upset him.  Just let him know how you feel.

Rally: Well, here goes nothing.  Striker, could you come too?  I'd like someone to be nearby just in case something goes wrong.

Striker: No prob.  I'll be right outside the door listening.

Rally: Thanks.

The two of them walks back into Mission Control and head down a hall.  They stop outside Dylan's room and Rally takes a deep breath before knocking on the door.

Dylan (From inside): Who is it?

Rally: It's me, Dyl.  Can I talk to you for a minute?

Dylan (From inside): Yes, come in.

Rally opens the door and walks in.  Dylan is sitting on the edge of his bed, looking up at Rally.  Rally sits down next to Dylan.

Rally: *Sigh* Listen, Dyl.  I know I was hard on you earlier and I'd like to say I'm sorry.  Striker explained to me what you're going through right now.  I know I acted like an asshole, but I was just upset.  I hope you can forgive me.

Dylan: Rally, you don't have to apologize.  You had every right to be upset.

Rally: I know, but I shouldn't have gone off on you like I did.  My temper just got the best of me.  I feel so bad.

Dylan: Don't worry about it.  I take full blame for all of this.

Rally: Dammit, don't do that.  Part of it was my fault.

Dylan: Hey, if I was in your position, I probably would've been pissed off, too.  You got upset because of my actions for good reason, and I don't blame you at all.

Rally: But it was partially my fault.  I should've explained things to you better to begin with.

Dylan: Nobody's perfect.

Rally: I know, but something tells me I should've seen this coming.

Dylan: Don't worry about it.  What's done is done.

Rally: Why are you being so calm about this?  I need to make sure things are OK.  And please don't give me some empty response like, "Hey, don't worry about it.  It's OK", because I can tell that's not sincere.  I have to make sure that things are worked out between us and that we can put all of this bull-s*** behind us.  Something in me just won't let this go, so I need to satisfy that part of me.

Dylan: Sorry.

Rally: Dammit, don't apologize.  Just say something that will let me know that everything between us is forgotten.

Dylan: Then let's just try to put this behind us and move on.

Rally: *Sigh*  OK.  I understand what you're going through right now and I apologize for the way I acted.  So can we be friends again?  I'd hate to lose a good friend such as yourself.

Dylan: I apologize for what I did, too.  And yes, we can still be friends.

Rally: *Weak smile* Thanks, Dyl.  And don't worry about apologizing to me.  There's really no need.  I'm just glad we were able to get this worked out.

Dylan: Me, too.

Rally: Well, I guess I'll see you later, buddy.

Dylan: Yeah.

Rally stands and walks to the door, turning to face Dylan at the doorway.

Rally: Take care.

Dylan manages a smile and Rally walks out into the hall.

Striker: Well, how'd it go?

Rally: I apologized and apparently everything's gonna be OK.  At least I hope so.

Striker: I'm sure it's gonna be fine.

Rally: Thanks for your help, Striker.  I'm gonna head off to my quarters, OK?

Striker: OK, see ya later.

Rally heads off toward his quarters and Striker walks into Dylan's room.

Setting: Rally's Room, RRMC, a few minutes later.

Rally is lying on his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling above him.  In his mind, visions of his forgotten past flash by.  It stops on a memory he thought he'd never have to think about again.

*Fade to flashback*

Rally, much younger than he is now, is in a heated argument with a human of about the age of 14 or 15.

Human: I wish you would die!

Rally: Well I wish I never had to see you again!

Human: Then how about we never talk to each other again?!

Rally: Fine with me!

Rally turns quickly and walks off angrily.

Human: Yeah, well me, too!

The human now walks off angrily in the other direction.

*Same flashback, one week later*

Rally is sitting on the porch of an apartment building when a car drives by and tosses a newspaper at his feet.  He picks it up, opens it to the front page, and is horrified to see the caption that reads "Teen Drowns Self In Local Pond" with a picture of the human he had the argument with underneath it.  Rally drops the paper and runs inside.

*End flashback*

Rally is still lying in bed, but now he has a tear in his eye.  He hears a knock on his door and sits up, quickly brushing the tear away.

Rally: Come in.

The door opens and Striker walks in.

Rally: *Stands up* Hey, Striker.  How's Dyl?

Striker: That's what I came to talk to you about.  Right now, he's crying.  He's upset about what's going on in his life, but now he's upset about almost severing his friendship with you.

Rally: What?  But I thought he was OK.

Striker: He's just emotionally hurt right now.

Rally: And it's my fault.  Dammit, he's got such a kind heart, but I pushed him way too far. *Starts to tear up* And now it feels like I'm gonna start crying, too.

Striker: Let it out, bud.  Just let it all out.

Rally breaks down and cries.  Striker walks up and gives him a friendly hug, trying to calm him.  Rally accepts the embrace and just cries.  After a few minutes, the tears let up a bit and Rally backs away slightly.  He wipes his face and looks at Striker.

Striker: Maybe you should go talk to Dylan again.  Try to comfort him.

Rally: But I don't know how.  This brought up a horrible memory I had forgotten... until now.

Striker: What is it?

Rally tells Striker the story about the fight he had with the human that eventually led up to the suicide.

Rally: I'm just afraid to face him.  I don't wanna go through something like that again.

Striker: No way!  Dylan's not going to kill himself while I'm around.  I'm gonna make sure of that.

Rally: Well, I guess I'd better go see if he's alright.

Striker: You want some company?

Rally: Yes, that would be nice.

The two of them once again head off to Dylan's quarters.  This time, both of them enter the room.  Dylan is on his bed, crying.  Rally is trying to hold his tears in, but can't.  They continue to roll down his face.  Dylan looks up and sees them standing there.  Rally again sits next to Dylan and Striker sits in a chair next to the bed.

Rally: Look, Dyl.  I'm trying my best not to cry, but I can't help it.  I know I hurt you, but please don't be upset with me.  You're too good a friend, I don't know how I let things get this far.  I'm sorry.  I really care about you, and I never meant to make you cry.

Dylan: I'm just hurting so badly right now.

Rally: I know, and I wish I could ease your pain better.  You're a good friend, I don't wanna see you hurting.

Dylan: It's OK.

Rally: No, it's not.  I should've known not to push you so far.

Dylan: It's not your fault.  Everyone screws up from time to time.

Rally: Yeah, but I seem to screw up all too often.

The three of them stand up and Dylan and Rally face each other.

Rally: I'm just glad we're still friends.

Dylan: Me, too.

Dylan and Rally embrace each other in a tight hug, crying softly on each other's shoulder.  Striker walks over and places a hand on Rally's other shoulder.

Striker: Don't worry, you two.  Everything's gonna be alright from now on.

Dylan and Rally break their hug.

Rally: Maybe.  With time, perhaps.

Striker: What do you mean?

Rally: Friendship is fragile and easily shattered, but it's not so easily mended.  But time heals all wounds.  We'll just have to wait for ours to heal properly.

Striker: I guess so.  Well, it's been a hard day for all of us.  How about we turn in for the night?  We can discuss this more tomorrow.

Dylan: Yeah.

Rally: Well, I'll see you two in the morning.

Striker: Good night, Rally.  You too, Dyl.

Rally and Striker leave the room and Dylan slips into his bed, his fur still damp from the tears.  But maybe with time, his broken heart will mend.