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. No copyright infringement is intended. Dylan Mackenzie belongs to me.
Once again - MANY THANKS to Karen, she's the Bestest beta ever, and Vasalysa - who keeps the cheese to a minimum, and offers endless advice and help. What would I do without the two of you?
Comments are always welcome at Geek
The journey took longer to organize than either Dill or Iona had expected. Their first hurdle had been simply leaving the Community and getting into the US in order to talk to the US military authorities. Armed with her father's name and batch number, Dill had started her inquiries at the Pentagon. Then she had to overcome the suspicions of the military personnel who had passed her from pillar to post until finally, exhausted and feeling as if she had been spinning her wheels for days instead of only 24 hours, she'd spoken to a nice young lieutenant that a captain had foisted her off on. The lieutenant actually listened when she spoke to him. With his help they had tracked her father down. He was head chef aboard the USS Colin Powell. Getting permission to visit him had proven even harder. Didn't she know there was a war on? The front lines were not the place for a pregnant woman to be going. Some heavy-duty persuasion eventually won over the lieutenant, and he wrangled them permission and transportation to both the USS Colin Powell and the USS Saratoga.
At long last, they were on their way.
Dill found the journey hard going. Now seven months pregnant and still sick, she found being squashed down in the tiny head onboard the ISSCV was no joke when you couldn't bend in the middle anymore. She barely slept, between her nervousness at meeting her father and the way the babies kept her awake with their wriggling all night. She was exhausted, and glad that Iona had come too.
"Dylan, how are you feeling?" Iona asked, as Dill returned from yet another trip to the head. She was concerned both as a friend and as a professional about the way Dill continued to grow paler everyday.
"I'm okay. Tired, but okay." Dill whispered from her seat next to a view port. Absently she rubbed her belly. "If only these monsters would sleep at night, I might get some sleep too. I don't know if it's Hamish or Cameron, but one of them rivals his father for thrashing about at night." Noticing Iona's questioning glance, she grinned. "Ty has nightmares… awful ones. He blacked my eye once when I tried to wake him. "
"Are you seriously going to call your babies those awful names? " Iona asked, trying to ignore the mental image of her friend with a black eye.
"Oh yes, if Ty agrees, of course." Dill nodded. "I like them."
Shaking her head, Iona couldn't help grinning. "Those poor, wee lambs"
"What about their poor, wee mother? Do they stop to think about me? I don't think so. They just dance, or wrestle, or do whatever they do in there all night long!" she laughed. "And then in the morning they make me heave myself inside out! I thought the being sick part was supposed to pass."
"I guess you're just unlucky." Iona told her. "Now could you try and get some rest please?"
Dill sighed. "Tell these little buggers that." She settled herself as comfortably as she could, and tried to sleep.
Iona watched her, fearing that the journey was proving too much for Dill. She was worried that the stress of meeting her father might cause problems with her blood pressure, or complications with the pregnancy. The weight she had lost at the beginning of the pregnancy, she'd never regained, and arguing over getting her to submit to a daily Intra-venous nutrient solution was becoming rather tiring. She sighed. There was little she could do, except continue to monitor her and simply be there for her.
Arriving on the Colin Powell, they discovered that Dill's father had transferred several weeks earlier to the supply ship The George Washington. Dill, despite wanting to leave straightaway, had been persuaded by Iona to stay overnight, at the very least, while they waited to receive clearance for the Washington. Iona used this opportunity to have Dill checked out in the Colin Powell's sickbay. To her immense relief everything checked out fine. Dill was tired, but it was nothing a hot meal and some sleep couldn't cure. Which was what they did. For once the babies let Dill sleep through most of the night, and the next morning they received notification that the Washington was expecting them.
Standing in the doorway of the ISSCV, Dill accepted the helping hand being offered as she stepped out. Looking up into the blue eyes staring at her, she was shocked to see a familiar face looking back. It was the same face she saw every time she looked in the mirror - blue eyes, brown curly hair, and snub nose, which in his case looked like it had been broken more than once.
Iona, having exited first, saw the looks on both their faces. She grinned at the identical look of recognition on both of them. Well, she thought, there's no doubting that this is her father. They're alike as two peas in a pod.
"You must be Dylan." he said, his voice a rich baritone.
"So must you be." she whispered, taken aback at the sheer size of him. He towered over her. She expected him to be small like her, since her mother was taller than she was, and she had to have gotten it from somewhere. It had made sense to her that he must have been built like her. That theory had just flown out the window.
He looked at her - at her huge swollen stomach - and grinned wryly. "I can see we have lots to talk about. Why don't I show you ladies to your quarters? You don't mind sharing, do you? We're a little cramped here."
At their nods, he turned and led the way out of the landing bay. Dill felt a sense of deja vous as she followed him through the passageways, staring at the navel on his neck. It didn't seem so long ago that it had been Ty's neck she'd been following. Absently she rubbed her stomach, soothing the moving infants inside; smiling at the warm glow the mere thought of McQueen gave her.
He stopped in front of a door. Opening it, he said, "Here you go. I'll leave you to get some rest. I'll have some food sent to you, and I'll be back later to talk." He smiled at Dill. "I'd rather talk here, in private, if you don't mind."
She nodded her head. "That's fine with me, and I'll probably need to stay near the head anyway."
He looked at her, confused, and glanced toward Iona, who told him. "Dylan is still getting sick sometimes, and the travelling has made it worse."
Understanding dawned. "Oh, well, okay then. I'll see you later." He turned and headed off back the way they'd come.
Inside, they found he was right. They were cramped, and Dill seriously doubted she'd be getting much sleep for the next week. She peered out of the window, wondering which speck of light was the 'Toga, and what Ty was doing at that exact moment.
She turned a wistful look on her face. "Yes?"
Iona sat on one of the small beds, her bag beside her. "So? What do you think so far? He seems OK, doesn't he? There's no doubting he's your father - you're the living image of him!" She sounded wistful herself. "I wish I could look for mine."
Dill made herself as comfortable as she could on the other narrow bed. "You can. Once these monsters have been born. We'll find him Iona. I promise."
Iona shook her head. "No, Dylan, we can't. The reason my mother joined with yours in the Community was that she and my father were attacked. She nearly lost me, and he was killed. My father's dead, Dylan."
Dill hauled herself upright and sat down next to her friend. They had been friends since childhood, and Dill had missed her more than she could say when Iona had left to do her nursing training. After she'd met Ty, she missed her even more. There was no one she could talk to… no one to giggle with over him.
"I'm so sorry, Iona. I never knew." she said, putting an arm around her and pulling her in as close as she could for a hug.
"Neither did I, until I started asking my mother about your father. She told me then - told me not to go looking for mine, that I'd not find him. She told me why." Iona looked at Dill, tears glistening in her eyes. "God, Dylan, I'm so happy for you, but…"
"But you wish we'd found your father." At her nod, Dill smiled. "That's okay, I can understand that. We're here now, but all I can think about is I want to see Ty. I so desperately want to see him, to feel him, to be able to smell him." At Iona's raised eyebrow, she giggled. "He always smells so…so delicious."
They looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"You know, Iona, I've missed you so much. I'm so glad you came home when you did. I missed this… us… laughing together over such silly things." Dill admitted.
"I did too…"
They were interrupted by a knock at the door. Getting up, Iona found a young corporal with a trolley. "Compliments of the Chef." he said, pushing it inside and removing the covers. "Real steak, fresh vegetables, and some real creamed potatoes with onion gravy." he announced. "Followed by a pecan pie and real cream." He glanced at them with a smile. "Chef obviously likes you. He doesn't serve pecan pie to everyone!" With a last lingering look at Dill, he said goodbye and was out of the door, pulling it closed behind him.
Iona laughed. "Well, the way he was looking at you Dylan, gossip will be ship-wide before we've finished this meal!"
Laughing, Dill agreed. They sat and ate companionably, thoroughly enjoying the food, which Dill managed to keep down, much to her relief.
Dill was sleeping when her father arrived the next morning. She had waked only briefly during the night when her babies decided to dance the tango inside her. Looking up, she saw Iona and her father smiling at her.
"What?" Dill asked groggily.
"You talk in your sleep." he told her. Smiling at her blush, he carried on. "Don't worry - none of it was clear."
"Except for Ty." Iona grinned. "The one word we could make out!"
Blushing furiously, Dill sat up. "Well, ummm…." she muttered, trying to hide her embarrassment. "So how long have you been listening to me?"
They both laughed. "Not long." her father said. "So tell me… Ty? Is he the proud father?"
"I don't know." Dill whispered. "I mean, I know he's the father, but I don't know if he'll be proud." She looked away. "He doesn't know."
Iona stood up. "I think I'll go and stretch my legs." she announced. "You two need a little private time."
At Dill's nod, she disappeared out of the door.
Her father looked at her. "Why doesn't he know?" he asked her quietly.
"Because I haven't told him."
"Why haven't you told him?"
She sighed. "I was scared." she whispered finally. "Scared that he'd do what you did. Run away and leave me."
He sat and stared at her for a long time. "Dylan, I didn't run away and leave you."
"Yes you did. Mother told me that after she'd told you she was pregnant. You transferred off the station the next day."
She could see his thoughts racing across his face as he reflected on her words. Grimly he said, "I think you'd better tell me what your mother has told you," he paused to smile gently at her, "and then I'll tell you my version of events."
He patiently listened to everything that Dill had to say, not stopping her. He let her rid herself of all the fears her mother had instilled in her, wincing occasionally at some of the things she'd been told. Eventually she rambled to a halt, reluctant to discuss Ty with him so soon. She just sat and looked at him, waiting.
He let out a long slow breath. "You know, Moira was beautiful when I first saw her, long blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. I'd never seen anyone quite like her before. She used to smile at me when she came in for her meals. For a young invitro, that was heady stuff. I'd only been out of the tank a year, and most of that had been spent in the kitchens where I worked. Not much opportunity to have contact with women." He smiled at Dill. "I served her dinner for months before I gathered the courage to say hello. I nearly fainted when she said hello back. After that she always said hello to me, and we began to make small talk. About the food mostly, but I was so entranced by her that I really didn't care. I mean, she was talking to me - a trainee doctor talking to a lowly tank."
"So how did it go any further?" Dill asked. "I mean, she gave me the impression that it was the love affair of the year. That's why she's so angry about me and Ty, because she says I'm fooling myself."
"We bumped into each other outside the kitchen. I didn't get much time to myself, but what time I did, I spent outdoors. There was an empty field at the back of us - just grass, with an old tree slap bang in the middle of it. I used to climb that tree and hide out in the top branches, away from everyone. She found me there one day. A particularly bad day. It was much tougher for tanks then. I spent most of each day hauling storage containers from one place to the next, cleaning inside the damn vats, scraping fat off places it shouldn't be. All the worst jobs a kitchen has, and then some. He worked me almost 24 hours a day. The chef hated me because I was a tank. He used to threaten to transfer me to the IV Platoons. They say head chefs are all bastards, but he was the worst I ever served under. If there's a single kitchen implement that didn't get thrown at me, or used to hit me with, I've yet to meet it. I was always covered in bruises. Your mother was shocked the first time she saw me." He blushed. "Well, when we … you know what I mean." he said with a shy grin.
She nodded patting her stomach with a grin. "Yeah, I know."
He smiled back at her. "I guess you do. I shouldn't really complain - I was extremely lucky. I could have wound up in far worse places. Instead I got a relatively cushy job in a kitchen, with plenty of room to move on up. Now I'm head chef. I get to do the shouting."
Dill sighed, thinking about the 5 years Ty had spent as a miner. What would he have been doing now, she wondered, if he'd been working in a kitchen instead? Her hand wandered back to her stomach.
Seeing her sigh, and the far away look in her eye and the way she absently stroked her stomach, her father called to her. "Dylan?"
She jumped. "Sorry… I was miles away."
"I could see that. Thinking about the father? I see a ring, but not a wedding band."
She glanced at her hand. "Yes, I was, and no, you don't. He's asked me to marry him, but we haven't set a date or anything yet. After the war…that's when it'll be." She rolled the ring on her finger. "Providing he's still alive."
"He's a soldier?" he asked. "Tell me about him, please?"
"I'd rather not. He's kind of private." she said slowly.
"Dylan, you're my daughter. I knew you were out there, even if I never tried to find you. I had no choice but to leave Moira. When the chef discovered I was seeing her, he had me shipped out into space. It was sheer bad timing that there was an immediate opening out here and they shipped me out the day after Moira told me she was expecting you, but I couldn't have married her anyway. I was still indentured." He reached out to hold her hand. "I often wondered what you looked like… what you were doing. I didn't even know if you were a boy or a girl, or what your name was." He smiled. "She named you after me. But I knew you were there. And now you've found me, you're about to become a mother yourself, and me, I'm going to be a grandfather. So please… tell me about my future son-in-law."
"You've probably heard of him. He's pretty famous." She stopped, reluctant to say his name. "Dad... can I call you that? Is that all right?" At his nod, she carried on. "Please don't tell anyone. He doesn't know yet, and it's not something he should pick up from scuttlebutt."
"Dylan, is he on this ship?" her father asked worriedly.
"No." she shook her head. "He's on the Saratoga."
"The 'Toga? They're in the middle of a hairy furball, Dylan. You won't be able to visit him now." His mind was racing. To the best of his knowledge, the 'Toga was in the thick of it, as usual. Seeing her worried face, he tried to reassure her. "I'm sure he's fine, Dylan. What does he do?"
Knowing she was going to have to tell him, she took a deep breath. "He commands a Marine Squadron…the 58th."
His eyes widened. "The 58th? Are you telling me…" he stopped, sitting back in his chair in disbelief. "My god, Dylan! The man is a legend. You're not joking, are you?"
She shook her head, patting her stomach. "Nope, these babes belong to Lt. Colonel TC McQueen, USMC…."
"No wonder Moira's so angry with you, Dylan. Another tank. She can see it happening all over again. Though I don't see him as a man to shirk his responsibilities, especially as he's already proposed to you." He looked at her face, at the anxiety he saw there. "Dylan, are you worried that he'll take off? Do you really believe the things she's said to you? Don't. If he loves you enough to ask you to marry him, well, you have nothing to worry about. Not a thing. I promise." He laughed. "The guy sure has some reputation!"
"He thinks he can't have children." she whispered. "What if he thinks they're someone else's?"
"No, they damn well are not!" she almost shouted at him.
He grinned. "I don't think you need to worry too much about that. And I see you inherited your mother's temper."
"But your strength." she laughed. "I decked him once. He went down like a log, but don't tell anyone!"
They were both laughing as she told him about how she'd hit McQueen and pinned him to the floor, although she didn't tell him why, when there was a knock at the door. It was Iona, back from her walk around the ship.
The three of them sat for a long while, filling in Dill's father on her childhood and the adventures and mischief they'd gotten into together, until it was time for him to leave. He promised to return the next day, to give them a chance to get to know each other properly before she had to leave.
It turned out that he was right. The Saratoga was in the frontline of a particularly nasty battle, and they were unable to go there until she'd been withdrawn to the back of the fleet for repairs.
Dill became increasingly frustrated. She needed to see Ty. She was glad that the extra time gave her the chance to get to know her father better, but she was afraid that they'd have to return to earth before she could tell McQueen about his impending fatherhood. With each day they were delayed, it looked like impending would soon turn into a done deal. Finally, 3 weeks after arriving on the George Washington, they boarded a transport for the Saratoga.
Standing in the landing bay, Dill hugged her father as tight as she could. "I'm so glad I found you. I'm really going to miss you."
Hugging her back, he smiled. "I'll miss you too. Make sure you let me know when those boys arrive, and don't forget to invite me to the wedding!"
"I won't." she said, pulling away, only turning back as he bent to whisper to her, "and Dylan, don't worry, he won't run away."
With a huge grin, she clambered into the transport and waved as the door slid shut.