DISCLAIMER: The characters and situations of the TV program "SPACE: Above and Beyond" are the creations of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Fox Broadcasting and Hard Eight Productions, and have been used without permission, but gratefully and with high esteem. No copyright infringement is intented. This story is not to be published on any ftp site, newsgroup, mailing list, fanzine or elsewhere without the express permission of the author.
Rated R for sexual content (m/m)
This story is not to be published on any ftp site, newsgroup, mailing list, fanzine or elsewhere without the express permission of the author.
Rated R for sexual content (m/m)
The Sweetest Kiss
Hawkes rapped hard on the Colonel's door, stood back and awaited summons. He thwarted a yawn that was threatening to make itself plain. Thirty-six hours straight duty and his rotation still wasn't over. Promised reinforcements were a dwindling hope. The scuttle-butt aboard ship was that the Thilo Sector was in imminent danger of collapse. If it buckled, their right flank would be exposed and a tactical retreat would be their only option. He hoped the next Chig attack wouldn't come anytime soon. Lack of sleep was skewing his judgment. He'd blundered badly during the Wild Cards last sortie and had severely over-reacted to being chastised by Vansen when they had come back on board the Saratoga. Tanks might have been artificially created and genetically screened for particular characteristics, but they still needed to sleep like any natural-born.
A muffled bark, through the reinforced door, interrupted his train of thought and forced him to focus on surviving the next few minutes without losing his cool. Straightening his uniform one last time, he nervously rubbed the palms of his hands against his trousers and entered the lion's den.
With a smart salute, Hawkes stood at attention and prepared to withstand the onslaught he knew was coming. McQueen never seemed to tire of reaming him out. He'd been here so often that he'd memorised the books on McQueen's shelves. Soldier like, on their ends, stood tales of ancient long dead human heroes and forgotten battles fought to ecstatic victory and holocaust defeat. This time, though, he chose to focus on a point, far distant, on the dark horizon of space visible through the window. The thrum of the Saratoga's engines the only marker that time crept forward as he waited.
With eyes only, Hawkes glanced in the Colonel's direction. McQueen stood ram rod straight, his back facing Hawkes, apparently examining a stack of books. Hawkes tried to imagine what the other tank was thinking but, as before, gave up, baffled by his commander. He barely understood himself; how could he comprehend his mentor? A tank, who strived to succeed in a natural-born world. A world that no longer wanted them since they had failed so spectacularly to meet Earth's expectations and would be happier if they didn't exist. Had never existed.
Below decks, Hawkes had half overheard whispered stories about life on Omicron Draconis. In the mines. Descriptions of rape and sodomy recited in gleeful, lurid detail. Young tanks, brutally used, abused and thrown away. Disposable people. McQueen had been one of them. The Saratoga's lower ranks gloated over that. Didn't McQueen realise what the natural-borns thought of him?
None of it made any sense to Hawkes.
As he waited to hear about his latest failure, every fibre of his being was tensed, spring-taut. He hated the waiting most of all. It gnawed at the confidence he'd managed to accumulate, fed murmurings of doubt. That confidence was all he had to protect himself when he faced the natural-borns. Bravado kept them distant, where the cracks were less visible.
"You know why you're here Hawkes?" The Colonel extracted a book from its place and let it fall open in his hand. His calm, detached demeanor ratcheted up the tension.
"Yes, Sir." Hawkes couldn't completely hide his insolent attitude. The Colonel could at least turn around and acknowledge him.
"You don't believe you should be punished?" McQueen turned to face him and tossed the book onto his desk. It landed with a smart slap. "Mister, I've read the reports." A cold, dark anger weighted each word.
Voicing his complaints in the past had only made things worse, so Hawkes kept his mouth shut.
"Well, Marine?" McQueen stood toe to toe with Hawkes. Tank-close, he smelt of everything human. Not artificial. McQueen's face was eerily quiet but his eyes spoke of emotions that Hawkes found too painful to touch within himself. A diversion was necessary.
Truculently, Hawkes whined, "You come down harder on me, Sir."
"Of course I do, Hawkes. You need it more than the others," McQueen fired back, exasperation writ large in his demeanor, as if he was dealing with a raw recruit who wasn't pulling his weight.
Irritation spiked in Hawkes, igniting a long held resentment. The natural-borns talked down to him all the time. Instructed him as if he were just a dumb tank. Belittled him because they didn't see him as a real person, deserving of respect. Why couldn't McQueen stay off his back too? He struggled to hold in his rising anger.
"You think it's unfair?"
"Yes, Sir," he spat, anger blazing in his eyes.
"And if it stops you being killed? Or worse?"
In sullen silence, Hawkes bowed his head, his long silky hair obscuring his face. "What could be worse than dying?"
Hurt-stung silence descended, broken only, finally, by a whisper. "Many things."
Hawkes flinched at the pain in McQueen's voice.
"Look at me," McQueen requested softly.
"Sir?" Hawkes examined the floor around his feet, evading McQueen's stare for as long as he dared. Seconds passed and piled heavily against him. Finally he could bear their weight no longer and met McQueen's gaze.
"I want you to survive this Hawkes. You have something, ... I ... I ..."
Too close, he's too close, Hawkes thought as he swallowed hard. A warm breath caressed his cheek. He swallowed again, fighting to stifle the tension that was escalating deep within, nourishing the desire that threatened to overwhelm him. This was neither the time nor the place. God, McQueen would surely have him busted to private and shipped out on the first transport to the front lines if he knew what went on his head, how Hawkes touched himself when he was alone in the 58th's quarters.
"Don't you understand?" McQueen struggled.
Before the question was complete, Hawkes' mouth was smothered. Surprised, he gasped, ready to protest. Seizing the opportunity, McQueen pressed his advantage and slipped his tongue between Hawkes' lips whilst desperate hands clasped Hawkes' head, thwarting withdrawal. Hawkes' body betrayed him and welcomed the invader. Heat flooded through Hawkes, quashing all objections and doubts. He reached out and drew the solid muscular body of his commanding officer closer. The secret object of his desire. Need met hardness as he pressed forward, maximising the contact along the full length of his torso. A chain reaction ignited, leapt from nerve to nerve, radiating out like a brush fire consuming all in its path.
Hawkes blinked, roused from a half sleep, suddenly aware of eyes turned on him.
"Well?" McQueen challenged.
"Dumb tank." The epithet came from in the ranks.
"Stow that," McQueen bellowed, his eyes on a seek and destroy mission, searching out the culprit, prepared to punish the offender.
The Marines bristled and straightened to attention.
"I asked you a question, Hawkes."
Dislocated, unconnected with this time and place, Hawkes struggled to make sense of where he was. He'd been heading to the debriefing room after another sortie, that much he was certain of. He struggled to explain, stuttered as he tried to put into words sleep muffled thoughts. Embarrassed, he surrendered to failure, shut up and slumped, head bowed, amidst the ranks.
Curtly, McQueen dismissed them. "Get out of my sight, the lot of you."
Quickly the others fled, happy to escape further evidence of McQueen's wrath. Hawkes lingered, reluctant to depart, needing ... wanting to explain.
"You too, Hawkes." The voice was soft with sadness, disappointment abundantly clear.
Despondent, Hawkes slouched to the door and looked back over his shoulder, "Sir? I ...."
With one hand on the wall, staring out into the darkness, McQueen remained aloof and unresponsive.
"Never mind, Sir," Hawkes offered sadly as he reluctantly left, the memory of the sweetest kiss burning on his lips.
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