Disclaimer: The characters and situations of 'SPACE: Above And Beyond' featured in this story are legal property of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Hard Eight Production and 20th Century Fox Broadcasting. No copyright infringement intended. This story is purely fictional and not for distribution or sale in either fanzines, ftp-sites or elsewhere without the permission of the author.

Author's Notes: This story is only a conversation between Shane Vansen and Cooper Hawkes directly after the ill-fated 'Mutiny' on the MacArthur. It's just a thought about what it means to have a family or the loss of it.

In memory of my step-brother Andreas who thought that having a family of his own was worth dying for.



Mutiny - Afterglow



Slowly it grew cold in the semi-darkness of the transportbay. Cooper Hawkes slumped down onto the floor, his eyes never leaving the face of the unborn In-Vitro woman who was suspended in the tank before him. Her features were so much like his own, the determined chin with the dimple, the dark-brown hair floating like a veil around her head and schoulders and the young Marine asked himself again if he had done the right thing by switching off the energy. He heard the hatch open and close behind him but he had not got the strength to turn around to see who was there. Soft footsteps were heard, advancing slowly towards him.

A hand touched his shoulder, gently squeezing it and when he finally turned his head, he saw Shane Vansen slipping down onto the floor beside him. For long moments, the woman did not say a word, just looking at the unborn In-Vitro.

"She's beautiful ..." Shane whispered, slowly turning her head to watch Cooper's face. Cooper nodded and squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. The pain he felt was almost gagging him and he swallowed hard.

"Yeah," Cooper replied and looked up at the tank again. "Though she kinda looks like me, ain't she?" Shane nodded and took his hand.

"Yes," she replied. "You can see that she is your sister ... The family resemblance is there ..."

Hawkes gave her a half-smile and tears were running down his cheeks. Shane could feel his pain and she was overwhelmed by the strong feeling of protection for this young tank.

"You did the right thing, Coop ... " she whispered, trying to reassure herself if this, really, was true.

Cooper had to make a decision of life and death, either his sister had lived for a short moment longer before the Chigs had destroyed the MacArthur or by switching off the energy giving the Wild Cards the chance to fight and destroy the attackers.

"Did I?" Cooper asked. "I ... uh, I keep thinking if she would have liked me and if I liked her. That we would really feel like brother and sister ... that we would be a family ..." Shane closed her eyes and caressed his hands slowly.

"You know Shane, I really envy you and the others. You have a family, brothers and sisters. You once told me that you and your sisters are not very close, but you HAVE them. With Kathy it could have been the same, we are from the same hatch ... I destroyed my family ..."

"I don't know, Coop. Being a family doesn't mean that you share the same genetic code ... it's more than that. Far more than that!" she searched his eyes for any signs if she was confusing him even more but all she could see was that he was listening to her words intently.

"Being a family means that one cares about another. That, no matter what, you can lean down on another's shoulder. You are right, Coop, we all have family. But you, too. We, the Wild Cards, are your family now, never ever forget this. What we've been through, has forged a deep bond between us all. It doesn't matter if we have family of our own. Right here, during this war, we ARE a family."

Shane could see the young IV's tears and she gently nudged his head down onto her shoulder. She rocked the big Marine to and fro in her arms, caressing his back with a universal gesture and held him while he wept.

"I don't know what it means to loose a sister, but I know how it feels to loose family. You can't change your decision but you can remember her so that she will live on in your memory. And Kathy will live on in my memory as well ... You had to make a decision, Coop. I know it's hard but you saved YOUR family by giving us the chance to fight. You have brothers and sisters, Nathan and Paul are your brothers and Phousse and I are your sisters. Never forget this ..."

Hawkes shuddered and clung on to Shane for dear life. He knew she was right. He had made the right decision. The Wild Cards were his brothers and sisters and MacQueen was his, no all their father.