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Cabin Pressure Fanfic: Inuksuk - CaffieneKittySpace
('i' before 'e' if you're looking for me)
caffienekitty
caffienekitty
Cabin Pressure Fanfic: Inuksuk
Title: Inuksuk
Fandom: Cabin Pressure (Radio Plays)
Rating: Gen, PG13
Content: AU. Were-polar bear Martin. Severe crack with a quasi-mythology hat on. Not even remotely as funny as it sounds like it should be. Self-tattooing. Angst. Purple prose.
Word Count: 1400-ish
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or the world of Cabin Pressure.
A/N: I apologise for the horrid abuse of tenses and Inuit legend in this. Written for this prompt on the Cabin Pressure Comment fic meme. May incur random editing later. [LJ-only]

Summary: Martin has always struggled with his identity. No one realizes just how much.



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Inuksuk
by CaffieneKitty
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Martin scribes the symbol on his forearm again with a needle and inked thread, putting the marks just under the surface of his skin where they won't wash off. It can't be a permanent mark, that defies his nature completely. Nature does nasty things when defied. The shape must be re-inked each time, by hand. Ideally with a bone needle and sinew rather than thread, but steel and cotton hasn't offended the Great Spirit or whatever it is that made him like this yet. The symbol is cleaner with modern tools; precise, crisp, ancient lines.

Both Arthur and Douglas have seen the symbol when they've shared hotel rooms. It's a mixed blessing that in recent years the symbol has become much more familiar to a wider range of people. Douglas had snarked about not realizing Martin was such a fan of international sport and made borderline crude remarks about potential locations to tattoo the logo of the London Olympics. Arthur, of course, thought it was brilliant.

To the unknowing eye, the symbol is simply an Inuksuk; the standing stones of the Arctic in the rough shape of a human. Translated directly, Inuksuk means "false/substitute person", which on some maudlin days Martin taunts himself with. Not human. Fake person.

Martin is exceedingly careful in the ritual. Unless the change is close, he doesn't need to do it, but he can't dare the risk. At most he gets a sense of the impending change an hour or two before. The bear can be capricious in when it chooses to emerge, going against every weather report, auroral forecast and moon phase.

His nightmares are full of the sight of his fingers widening, merging into paws and claws that drag over the aeroplane console, sending Gerti into disaster by his own best efforts to keep control before his mind is lost to the bear. In the dreams as his bear-self, the strange bright-metal cave is terrifying, shaking, falling, filled with humans making loud noises. The humans are far too easy to silence.

Martin carries a needle, thread and ink with him at all times, in his flight bag, in his luggage, in the lining of his jacket. He doesn't want to see his nightmares become real.

When he first turned at age twelve, Martin's grandmother had shown him the precise lines of the symbol. It wasn't a simple stack of stones, but specific lengths of lines and widths of spaces that made this image something other than a decoration on his skin. When he took higher maths in school later and learned of ratios and numbers that described parts of the world, he found those numbers reflected on his arm, in the symbol. He'd told his grandmother; she'd just smiled indulgently.

His father had said Martin was cursed when he found out. It was part of the very old family bloodline that had come back to England from the New World back in the days when explorers from Britain were searching for the northwest passage to India. Martin's father and grandmother had helped him hide when the change came on him, they kept him cool enough in the humid summers and damp green British winters. The van his father gave him was large enough to contain Martin in his bear-form, the tools a reminder that his feet should remain on the ground, that he shouldn't risk people's lives by trying to fly.

The CAA didn't know of course, and Martin seriously doubted they would have a rule on the air-worthiness of his condition if they did. They might pass his case to the government, the government might lock him in a lab somewhere and do experiments. Grandmother, in the way that grandmothers do, had passed word of his state to the 'elders', whoever they were. The elders did nothing as far as he could tell, but Martin felt watched.

No one else knew.

"My grandfather taught me the symbols, rituals and laws, just in case someone in the family became the bear again. Someday you may teach your own grandchildren," Grandmother had said, drawing the inked thread through his freckled skin, showing him so he could follow. "This simply means you're different, Martin. You're not better, nor worse than any other person in this world."

"Why me? Why did I get cursed?"

Grandmother tsked. "This is no curse. This is a part of you, as it was a part of my grandfather. You must respect it, Martin, not fear it."

"But I hate it." Martin had rubbed tears from his eyes that were only partly from the sting of the inked thread. "Why couldn't I at least be changed into a bird? I don't want to be a stupid bear. I want to fly."

"You can't wish this away or bind it away forever, though you can use this symbol to keep it suppressed when required. To bind half your soul forever would wither it, sour it, make it resent, make it thirst."

"Thirst for what?"

Grandmother met his eyes, and Martin looked away.

"You must not use this mark every hour of every day. You need to become the bear because you are a bear, the same as you are a man." She smiled. "Or will be one day."

Martin sniffed and rubbed his freckled nose.

"You must accept this, Martin, as you must accept all the parts of yourself. This is part of who you are."

His grandmother had died before his father had, and Martin was no closer to accepting himself as a man or as a bear than he was the day he first changed.

In his attic, Martin pulls the last line of ink through his skin, completing the top stone of the Inuksuk. His sense of smell dulls, his vision dims, and the chill from the drafts in the attic room become a discomfort rather than a relief. Something inside him that he tries not to think of twinges as his soul presses back down to fit inside his small human skin, bound tightly.

Before every flight, he sets the ink in his skin, a symbol to put the bear into hibernation. The risk is too great not to.

Whenever they flew Gerti to the coldest places of the world, Martin thought maybe there would be enough time for the power of the Inuksuk to fade, let him change and run in the snow and ice before the flight back, assuage the bear. But those places had dangers of their own, hunters, conservation officers. The biggest danger of all was the danger that the bear would not retreat and allow Martin to resume human form and thought in time to re-ink the Inuksuk and fly the plane home without fear of the bear's return.

As he runs a thumb over the symbol on his arm before pulling his sleeve down, Martin promises the spirit of his grandmother again that he will go to the cool wild forest outside Fitton, let the change take him, let his soul stretch, roll in the shaded glens and the hidden ponds, too warm in his insulating fur, but stretching, stretching. He has to respect the bear, or even the Inuksuk won't hold it.

His phone rings.

"Will Sir be joining us for the flight today?"

"Yes Douglas, I'll be there in a minute."

"I could tell the Belgian passengers that they must wait for His Captainship to complete his extended morning toilette, but I believe Queen Carolyn who is currently revving the engine of the Royal chariot would have a very loud Royal decree on the matter."

"I'll be right there, Douglas! I'm just... packing."

"I'm sure the Belgians will be thrilled that Sir is well-supplied with fresh socks for the six hour round trip."

Martin disconnects. He puts the phone in his flight bag next to his very unusual sewing kit, and pulls on his uniform jacket.

He does accept that this is part of him, he does, but he has to fly. He needs to fly. Flying is more a part of him than any mystical bear will ever be. So he binds the bear, in order to spread his wings. He hopes the bear understands.

He shoulders his flight bag and runs down the stairs to the sky.

- - -
(that's all)




References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk
http://www.vanishingtattoo.com/arctic_tattoos.htm

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Current Mood: crazy crazy

10 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: mildly_neurotic Date: June 20th, 2012 08:04 am (UTC) (Link)
This is wonderful and a bit sad. I have to wonder how this Martin would have felt on the Qikiqtaruk flight! Nice work.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: June 21st, 2012 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
He would have had a few extra things on his mind, that's for sure.
faroula From: faroula Date: June 20th, 2012 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I really liked this. Thanks for posting.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: June 21st, 2012 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for reading!
hurry_sundown From: hurry_sundown Date: June 20th, 2012 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome.

And now I want a Cabin Pressure/due South crossover.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: June 21st, 2012 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Never watched Due South, though I am Canadian so I probably should at some point just for the lols.
daasgrrl From: daasgrrl Date: June 20th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
You say crack, I say gorgeous. I mean, the concept of Martin being a were-polar-bear is innately full of bizarre, but you made it into something lovely and wistful.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: June 21st, 2012 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw, thank you so much! :-D
lunard136 From: lunard136 Date: June 21st, 2012 12:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Geez I hope the bear understands!

This was very good. Loved the rhythm and the use of the Inuksuk! Well thought, too. Loved this!
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: June 21st, 2012 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
10 comments or Leave a comment