if there's one thing Russell Jeremy Kriekk * knows to be a fact, it's that intelligence in a field is the byproduct of an education. it's a rather simple view of the world, yet one that entirely disregards his own accomplishments while somehow praising others for theirs -- it's all relative, he would argue. his interns ? well he's proud of them, but he knows that hard work always pays off. he knows some people just have it easy, and neither quality should be a disadvantage. it's what makes him a good boss, in all honesty, a great boss. he's cut-throat and to-the-point, almost achingly so, but he gives credit where credit is due. he won't take any, certainly not, but no matter -- the people who work for Russell Kriekk know they're going to have to work their asses off, that he's not the nicest boss in the world, but that they sure as hell are going to find the effort worthwhile at the end of the line.
* Cricket, please. he won't answer to his first name. most the interns call him something along the lines of Dr. or Mr. Kriekk / Cricket, thought he does answer to His Majesty **, Koala ( Bug, Buggy ) ***, or whatever current pop / singing sensation this generation of interns has on their to-watch list ****
** also not a joke. his first year having a group of interns, Karen Aracha, the bravest of them all, had sarcastically rolled her eyes and replied, " Coming right up, Your Majesty " at the preposterous request of somehow procuring seven-week-old test tubes in five minutes. the room had gone quiet, dead silent, as everyone looked up to where Cricket had been standing, labcoat sleeves rolled up, glasses slipping down the bridge of his nose, and there'd been a split second of a pause before he'd shrugged and gone, " Figure it out. " Figures, the name stuck.
*** a few days after Cricket's half brother had joined the family, Reece, his father, decided to take them all to the zoo. Crick, as a child ( and pre-teen, and teenager, and young adult, and adult, and probably well into retirement ), loved to sleep and would often fall asleep in random locations. so Reece was herding a new son, quiet and nervous, Danny, his oldest, and Scott, the troublemaker, with a sleeping Crick in his arms. they'd walked by the koala pen, where one had been attached to another, sleeping. " Awe, look, it's like our little Koala Bug, " one of the brothers had pointed out, and Crick, PhDs and all, cannot get out of a Skype conversation with any of his older brethren without the name coming up.
**** his own personal style of retaining facts and getting through his work can easily be categorized as talking fifty million miles a minute. the Rubber Duckie Test ? for Cricket, it's a rubber duck, the table, the empty faces of those around him, a pen, the air, a poster, and so forth. he doesn't stop talking. he memorizes and categorizes data in his head, orally, without thinking much of it ( see : downplaying his own intelligence, see : refusing to note how specific that talent is towards himself, see : assuming it's something everyone is capable of doing ). processes information by talking, talking until his throat is raw and he has to fight the pain to be heard over a whisper. so, lemon tea with honey is on the daily, and depending on how sassy his interns tend to be, he gets a quip of, " Here you go, Christina " or, " Didn't know you were auditioning for Broadway, sir " along with it. he doesn't mind. truth be told, he doesn't know who they're talking about, half the time.
it was never Cricket's dream to be smarter than anyone, to change the world. he's always just liked science. growing up, they had enough money, but nothing in excess. just, enough to get by. there was no television set in the living room, and with two older brothers a decent amount older than him in age, yet desperate to make him the number one priority in their lives, Cricket spent a lot of time laying around outside, watching the stars, or trees, or learning why the sun set from one direction. Danny and Scott would oftentimes come home from school, pull Crick up on their laps, and read to him from their textbooks, answering questions the best they could, watching this bright, blue-eyed boy with the skinny knees and the freckles absorb as much knowledge as he could. when he started school, he would flourish in math and science classes, he'd stay late afterwards, knowing that Marjorie and Reece couldn't always pick him up right away, and wait in the library.
he's always been curious. that's the heart of the matter, always felt a need to ask questions, and Cricket has been lucky enough to be surrounded by a family who would answer his questions -- or try to. Atticus arrived, and Crick would follow him around too, splitting his time between trying to impress Danny, Scott, and At. following them and trying to ask as little questions as possible, and if he did, it would be a good one. if there's one thing Cricket knew about growing up, it's that his brothers loved him. all tough, hardered, quite frankly, dangerous individuals, and they would lay their lives out before him. Scott's number one priority during his teen years was picking up chicks and keeping Marjorie from learning that he smoked, but when Crick fell and sprained his wrist, Scott cancelled a date with a college freshman to carry him to the doctor's.
if the affection his brothers gave him altered one thing, it was the effect it had on Cricket's relationships with other people. it's a strange balance, simultaneously being unimpressed and, quite frankly, disappointed by oneself, while knowing everyone close to you loves you with all their beings. it gives Cricket a strange sense of self-depricating narcissism -- he's unafraid to tell people, point blankly, what he wants, regardless of the context ( he demanded a raise his second week on the job, he used to get men and women five years his senior to buy him drinks with a few bats of eyelashes and a slow grin ), yet doesn't see a personal value to his own worth. if he wants to go after someone at a bar, he will, he'll do his best, and usually come out with the preferable outcome. however, if someone is making eyes at Crick ? curiosity will get the better of him, he'll end up in a shady situation with a shady person, smoking a cigarette as he waits for a cab to pick him up, reeking of booze, semen, or pussy ( sometimes, all three ), feeling the beginnings of a few bruises forming. he's tried to sneak past his brothers one too many times, had to have to pick him up from sketchy locations a few less, but still noteworthy amount, of times ( the leather jacket he still wears was slipped onto his shoulders when he was sixteen years old, calling Scott and Danny to come bail him out of a party he'd had to lock himself into the bathroom ). for someone with his IQ, for someone who goes after what he wants, Cricket knowsn he should know better.
but he doesn't.
it got better, after he left for University. science consumed his life once again, and he could never be found without a labcoat and a pair of safety goggles -- sometimes two, quite honestly, one pair on his face and another forgotten on the top of his head. people, his relationships with people, were a brief second to learning, memorizing, repeating. he'd finished his first year at University when Atticus got married, and Crick remembers his arms around his older brothers, dancing on tables at the wedding, knocking back champagne and coming out to see Danny, Scott, and Atticus smoking cigars in a circle, none of them batting an eye when he pulled out his own pack of cigarettes. they'd simply laughed at him, called him a twerp, and thrown an arm around his shoulder. he'd leaned against Atticus, who had kissed his cheek, and the four Kriekk sons stayed there for a while ( probably the largest amount of time that entire night Atticus hadn't spent glued to his new husband's side, which they definitely rubbed in his face ), laughing, talking, congratulation each other. because that's what brothers did, these were the men that had raised Cricket, that had brought him along when he'd been too young and the age difference was still too large, who had dealt with his desire to please them, to run after them and get the satisfaction of their attention, the men who picked him up when scraped knees meant tripping over a rock or getting bullied for wearing glasses, and when it meant being pushed out of a bar for starting trouble. his heroes, no matter the light, no matter their fights, their disagreements, the differences between them, Cricket stood there, in his suit and tie, wavering slightly from all the champagne, knowing that these were his three favourite people in the world ( Reece and Marj coming in at a close tied-for-second, of course ), and he wouldn't know what to do without them.
maybe that's why he made his next choice, maybe that explains why, after graduation, Cricket had decided to move to Chicago. maybe it was the familiarity of being there around his brother, being too afraid to go off somewhere by himself, Crick isn't sure, but nevertheless, he was soon barking at other med tech students in the lab again -- only this time, he was the only one with such a vulgar accent, and often had to tone it down a few notches to be understood.
he graduated in Chicago, worked on his dissertation and a few other works while trying to get a job -- got his PhD at twenty-six, and his own chain of interns that very year, including Karen Aracha. it's been four years at the same place, a place he truly and honestly loves, doing something he truly and honesty loves, next to one third of the people ( one fifth if you count the parents, one one hundredth if he counts the rest of the loud, rowdy, rather insane Kriekk clan ) he truly and honestly loves. though, Atticus's husband and his kids aren't bad either, so maybe he should go back to change his fractions a little bit; nevertheless, Russell Jeremy Kriekk certainly settled himself properly in this life, with the one golden rule, swallowing up all the rest: the knowledge that he is not smarter than anybody he knows. the knowledge that the only thing that puts a Dr. before his name, that gets him to work where he does, is the education behind his years. the bus driver that gets him to work every day ? Cricket firmly believes that man or woman would be at where he was if they had decided to follow his course of education. nothing about what he's done is extraordinary, nothing about what he has to his name is impressive.
it's simple. he is where he is because of the things he has learned. nothing is initiative taken from himself, separately. he is not smart for getting here. he makes his mistakes, focuses a bit too fiercely on some, wrongly ignores a few others, but they're there. they exist. they don't keep him back or push him forward, and the least he can do is grab a box of bagels for the interns every now and then, though if finds any Everything seeds on the lab equipment again, so help me god, Jared, you will be fired quicker than you can remove the fucking labcoat --
but I digress.
point-black, Russell Jeremy Kriekk. grumpy, loud-mouthed, cranky. likes his sleep, Chinese from the place down the block from his bus stop, and thickly packed cigarettes, hates being woken up, and that's about it. hates it so much it deserves his own list. he's afraid of failure, afraid he's running out of time, not to make his mark on the world, heavens no, he doubts he'll ever do that -- but he's afraid he's running out of time to learn and process what he's learned, though he doesn't know what obstacle could possibly get in the way of that. narcissism meets a deep-rooted self-disappointment, unlaced combat boots and cuffed jeans meets a lab coat, a pint of Guiness meets, hey, stranger. you wanna buy me a drink ? meets feeling at home, falling asleep on the mattress of his small apartment, curled up and out until the next cup of coffee, the next coughed-up tissue of blood from overtalking, the next glasses prescription, next niece or nephew's birthday part and, of course, the next time he sleeps -- alone, or not.
because, yes. sleep is so important, it needs mentioned twice.