Disclaimer:The characters and situations of 'Space: Above and Beyond' depicted in this story are legal property of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Hard Eight Production and 20th Century Fox Television and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement intended. If they were mine, they would still be on TV.

Rating: PG

Author's Note: I wrote this a very, very long time ago and just found it lost on my computer this weekend. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks very much to Cjinn, for the beta-reading. Feedback is appreciated.

Merry Christmas


Lia J.

"Do you want some juice, Shane?"


"Shane, you there?"


"Do you want some juice?"

"Oh... yeah, sure. Sorry."

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I just... need to get used to this again..."

"Alright then."

Ed handed his sister-in-law the orange juice and looked at his wife. Anne was happy. She had her sister back after so long. Ever since Shane joined the Marines and the war started, something in Anne had been missing. He didn't know what, but something. And now, since Shane appeared on their front door the night before, that something was back. He could see it in Anne's eyes.

"So Shane, wanna go to the beach today?"

"Don't you have to work?"

"That's one of the privileges of being your own boss. I don't need to open the bookstore today. So, what do you think?"

"Well, I'm up for it if you're up for it."

"We can take Marion with us and make a day out of it." Anne smiled as she spoke. "It's so good to have you back! Feels like home again..."

Shane smiled wryly back. "It's good to be back, Anne."

"You're coming with us, Ed?" Anne asked.

"I wished I could but I can't. I'm not my own boss. Have fun"

Ed stood up, kissed his family and left. By the door, he could hear his wife talking. "Laurie is coming on Sunday. You think you two can..." He went down the stairs, got into his car and left.


Everything at the hospital was normal except for one thing: Dr Bowman. Ed tried, he really tried, but he couldn't get Shane off his mind. He knew her pretty well and she was different since she came back. Something was not right. She was too quiet. Yeah, he knew Shane wasn't the chattiest person in the world and he knew she had been through a war but somehow that didn't seem to be the problem. It had to be something else. It had been two weeks since her return and the only thing she said about her sudden leave was a quick "I'm out and I don't wanna talk about it". That was not like her at all. If he knew one thing about Shane it was how she loved the Marine Corps. It was in her blood and it glowed in her eyes. He'd read the letters she'd sent to Anne. You could see that in spite of the war, in spite of the horror, Shane was very much in her element. Her home. She wrote about her squad mates with a mix of friendship, annoyance and pride. Ed never heard Shane talk about anyone but her sisters like that. He even remembered having mentioned that to Anne. But Shane said nothing about her squad mates now. Nothing at all.

Apparently, Annie had not noticed all that. She kept acting like a little child trying to impress her mom. She showed Shane the remodeling she'd done at the bookstore and talked about Marion every five minutes. Lauren... Well, Lauren and Shane's relationship was never a very friendly one. After all that happened right before Shane enlisted, it was not a wonder that they weren't on 'best friends' status. But apparently, Lauren was distant not because of any suspicion of her sister but more to save herself the pain and avoid another fight. Or maybe he was the one getting crazy. She had been through a war. Of course she was different. He should just stop obsessing and go back to his work.

*** "Come to bed, Ed! It's late!"

"In a minute..."

"Are you cheating on me via SpaceNet?"



"There. Finished. Happy?"

Ed sat on the bed.



"So what? It's late, hon, let's sleep"

"That's no fun... Why did you want me to come to bed so badly if all you wanted was sleep?"

"I can't sleep without your feet there..."

"Oh... Glad to know I have a purpose in your life..."

"That's why I married you."

"Or you wouldn't be able to sleep?"



He lay on the bed but did not relax. He felt like no feet in the world would make him sleep. "Anne?"


" I was doing some research just now, on the SpaceNet, and you know you can't just quit the Marines in the middle of the war. Unless you..."

Anne turned to face him. "What are talking about?"

"Shane. She said she left the Corps. She can't do that. Either they let her go for some reason or... she deserted."

"What?? What the hell are you talking about Ed??? Shane didn't desert!"

"What did she do then?"

"I don't know! She didn't say. She didn't want to say and I respect that cause I trust her. I thought you did too!"

"I do!"

"It sure as hell doesn't look like it..." "Annie, calm down. Don't you think she's been acting... I don't know... strange ever since she came back?"

"What do you mean?"

"I dunno... She's been... distant. She never talks. Not about the Marines, not about the war, her friends. Not even about daily things here. It's like, she only talks if you ask her something..."

"She was in a war, Ed. She's been fighting for two whole years. You can't expect her to come back partying. You can't expect her to be the same. I'm sure there's a good reason why she's back but if she's not comfortable enough to talk about it with me, I'm not gonna force her. And I'm not going to check up on her behind her back! You have a question: ask her. If she wants, she'll answer. If she doesn't want, well I guess we'll just have to get on with our lives then, huh?

There was no way he was winning that argument. Anne had a way of doing that, he thought. "Ok. I'm sorry"

"Good. You should be. Let's sleep"


Shane was sitting on the porch, reading something. Ed felt that was the moment. If you have a question, ask her Anne had said. Well then, he would ask. He sat down by the door, a few feet from her.

"Morning, sis"

"Morning Ed. Anne is out, grocery shopping."

"I know. Is Lauren coming today?"

"No, she has a paper or something to finish and she needs to stay in LA"

"Is everything ok with the two of you?"

"As good as it can be"

"You talked?"


"About what happened?"


"You know you are going to have to do that eventually, don't you?"

"Yes. But eventually is not now, is it?"

"'Suppose not. What are you reading?"

"Oh, some dumb book about a pilot... Anne thought I'd like that..."

"You don't?"

"Not really. It's funny but I don't think it's supposed to be... The guy is a loser and it all comes out too easy and pretty, you know? Don't tell Annie. I said I was loving it..."

"Don't worry... I guess flying those big mean planes isn't pretty?"

"No, it's wonderful and it makes you fell alive. But it's not pretty"

"I wouldn't be able to do it. I'd most certainly freak out and end up hanging upside down on a alien tree somewhere" he joked "Seems kinda dangerous to me"

"It isn't dangerous. Not when you're the best"

Shane smiled. She didn't do that a lot these days. It made him feel like he was worrying over nothing.

"Where are the guys of your squadron?"

He just popped the question without thinking much. She looked at him but she didn't seem surprised he asked.

"Up there", She pointed the sky. "You okay, Ed?"

"Why aren't you there with them?"

"Trying to get rid of me?"

"Why did you leave the Corps?"

"What's up with the interrogation?"

"I was wondering... You never said why..."

"I wanted out."

"I thought you couldn't just get out."

"Well, apparently I'm some sort of war hero. And I made sure they knew I wasn't staying whether they let me leave or not. I guess having a war hero desert wouldn't be good for troop moral. Happy?"

"Why did you want out?"

"Why do you think?"

"I dunno... As far as I knew, you always loved the Marines. I thought you'd stay there till you were a general or something.."

"Things changed"

"Why did they?"

Shane shook her head. She put her book down and leaned her body, looking straight on Ed's green eyes. Her voice was low.

"Do you know how it is to see the people you care about dying all around you, Ed? Do you know how it is to see your friends, whose lives happen to be your responsibility, die? Do you? Do you know how is it when those friends die and you find yourself not even able to cry over their deaths? I guess you don't. So my answer will never satisfy you." She stood up and walked to the street. He stayed frozen, sitting by the door, watching her disappear around the corner. He only moved when Annie arrived and Marion came running in his direction. And he decided to stop obsessing over Shane. She had enough.


"Wake up, sleeping beauty"


"Camon, Captain!! We have to be to Ed's parent's house in an hour. It's almost 10..."

"Oh, I know. I'm up, I'm up."

"Where were you last night?"


"That I figured out by myself, thank you very much."

"I was just... wandering..."


"The Air Base."

"At the house? Shane..."

Shane sighed. "No. I was just... watching the planes..."

"Oh." Anne leaned back. "You miss it?"

"The flying yes. The war no. Let me just put on some clothes and we'll be outta here"


Shane looked back over her shoulder. "Don't you have something better to do?"

"What, sis? You lived with a bunch of grunts for two years and now you are embarrassed of me, your own flash and blood, seeing you naked?"

"Shut up, Anne", she said joking.

"You shut up, Shane"


Shane entered her closet with a small smile on the corner of her lip. She grabbed a black silk shirt and started getting off the USMC T-shirt she was wearing for pajamas. Anne walked to the closet door and noticed a few scars on Shane's back but decided not to mention. Her sister probably had enough problems concerning those scars without her asking questions about them. She entered the closet and starting looking through Shane's clothes. Shane was facing the wall, with her back to Anne and she didn't notice that her sister was alongside her in the closet.

"We need to get you some new clothes. You only have your utilities or some really, really old stuff. Gosh, remember this dress? I borrowed it for Lisa's par..."

Anne fell silent when Shane turned to look at the dress an she saw a long, dark scar crossing Shane's body. It started on her chest and ran down her abdomen, disappearing under her pants.

"Shane? God.... What..."

"It's ok, Annie..."

"No, it's not! What the hell is that?"

"A little souvenir."

"Don't joke with me! I'm tired of you hiding things! Ed was suspicious and I tried not to doubt you but you are hiding things from us!"

"I'm not hiding anything!"

"Yes, you are! You didn't say why you were here or what happened in space…"

"Because it was none of your dammed concern!"

"You concern us! I wanna know Shane! I wanna know what happened! I wanna know how did you get this" Anne pointed at the scar. Shane closed her shirt.


Anne had gone too far. Damn! She swore to herself that she wouldn't push Shane...

"I'm fine!"

Anne came closer and Shane pushed her away.

"You don't need to tell me if you don't want to."

"Good, cause I'm not."

Shane stormed out of the closet and then the room. Annie thought about following her but decided not to. She needed to be alone. That was pretty obvious. She didn't need anybody pushing her any farther. Dumb move Anne. Now, there's no way she'll open up to you. Ever.


"Nothing good about it"

"Well, I didn't said 'Good Morning', I just said 'Morning'. In case you were wondering what time of the day it was".

Ed joked, trying to ease Shane's obviously pissed of spirits. Her lack of a reply as she searched through the refrigerator made it seem like he had failed but he thought it was an already good sign that she hadn't jumped at him. He knew that particular look in her eyes and would hate to be a victim of it.

She got an apple and reached for the door.

"Aren't you coming to my folks'?"

"Sorry, Ed."

She stopped for a moment as if she was thinking but did not turn.

"Camon Shane, it's Christmas!"

"I don't have much to celebrate. Sorry."

How about being alive? He thought but did not add. As she reached for the doorknob, the door opened. Lauren. Shane took a deep breath and past by her younger sister. Neither said a word.

"She's getting good at that." Lauren said as she closed the door.

"What?" Ed asked.

"Walking away."

"Shut up Lauren." That was Annie, coming down the stairs.

"Why should I?"

"Because you have no right to criticize Shane" "Don't I? Well, I'll give you that Anne. I'll stop it as soon as she starts talking"

"She'll talk when she wants to."

"You always defend her, don't you? I don't believe... "

"Yes, I do. If it wasn't for Shane I'm sure neither of us would be here. She's taken care of us since we were kids! She's the reason we didn't get separated after mom and dad died." Anne tried to keep her voice low while Lauren scream at the top of her lungs.

"Oh, yeah, thank you very much Shane. Keep us from being torn apart and then when your work was done, turn your back on us"

"She didn't turn her back on us!"

"Really? It sure felt that way when she left."

"She left because of you!!" Anne shouted

Laurie stood motionless. She didn't expect that. Not from Anne. Anne was on the verge of tears. It had been a long time since she had fought with her sisters and now she had fought with both in a space of less than half an hour. On Christmas day. They stayed silent for a few seconds, Ed wishing really hard he was somewhere else. Anywhere else. Then Marion entered the room holding a blond doll she got as a Christmas gift.

"Aren't we going at granny's, mommy?"

"Yes, honey, we are."

Annie grabbed her daughter and sat at the table, putting Marion on her lap. Laurie still stood in the same place. She moved slowly over to sit at the table, drinking a cup of juice in silence. "Merry Christmas all right" Ed muffled under his breath but nobody heard.

It was night and Shane was still walking by the beach. She hadn't eaten anything except that apple the whole day. She had just walked. Surprisingly, she wasn't hungry. Or thirsty, or anything. She was numb. She had felt that way before. Between missions on the Saratoga in the last few months, she just walked around feeling nothing. She dispersed so much energy when fighting, that her body was probably recharging during her free time. So, her body was in 'recharge' mode now. It thought it was between missions. She needed to figure out a way to tell it she didn't need a recharge anymore. She wasn't going to feel all that again. She wasn't going back. Not again. Not ever.
She saw a figure in the shadows, sitting in the sand and thought she recognized it. Coming closer, she realized, she did know that figure. Lauren. She stood behind her sister.

"May I join you?"

Laurie looked up at her. "Public beach."

Shane tried to ignore that. "How was Christmas?"

"We ate, we drank, we faked happiness, same ol', same ol'."

Shane sighed. "Something bugging you?"

"I'm fine"

"Yeah, you're sitting alone on the beach with a sad face at 9 o clock on Christmas night because you're fine."

"You're one to talk"

"Guilty" , Shane smiled at her.

"Why are you being like that?"

"Like what?"


"I'm always nice"

"No, you're not. Not these days. Since you came back, you're acting weird. It's like you don't care. But then again, maybe you don't. Maybe you never did"

Shane tried to hide the pain she felt when hearing those words. She tried not to get mad. She didn't want to get in a fight. Fights with Lauren never ended well. "What makes you think that?"

Laurie sighed. "Nothing."

"I know... I know I'm not acting like myself since... lately... But, a lot of stuff happened I thought I had dealt with it, but it turns out I didn't. I'm sorry if I'm making things hard for you and Annie, but I promise to... try to get my act together soon."

Laurie said nothing. She stared at the ocean in front of her. "Shane?"


"Did you... When you left... When you enlisted, did you leave because of me?" Lauren was holding back tears and hoped Shane wouldn't notice it. She did. And she didn't know what to say. She took a deep breath and stared at her feet buried in the sand.

"Yes.", she suddenly said.

"Yes?" Lauren didn't expect that. She expected a comforting comment, a kind word to make her feel better. She didn't expect a 'yes'.

"Laure, I was so tired when I left. Tired of everything. All my life, all I had was you and Annie. My whole existence was the two of you. Then Annie got married and I lost her. No, not lost her, but... she didn't need me anymore. I didn't have to take care of her. And then you with that whole idea of leaving school..."

"It was stupid, Shane, I know that now, I'm sorry..."

"I know you do. And it was stupid, for the record. And it hurt to realize that I couldn't make you see it was a mistake. But... I guess, what hurt more was the fact that you made that decision alone. You also didn't need me. It was a mistake, but it was your mistake, your life. I wasn't a part of that anymore"

"You were! You are!"

"Not in the same way. From that moment on, Laurie, I was finally your sister. Not your parent, not your guardian. And being that was all I ever was. If I wasn't the one who took care of you, then who was I? I had no life. That's why I joined. I needed something mine. I didn't want to be the caretaker anymore. I wanted to be a Marine for me."

"I'm sorry..."

"For what? For growing up? Don't be. It was good..."

"Shane, I sent you to the war. Directly or not, I did it."

"You didn't send me to war. You're not responsible for it, you could never be. See it like this: you're the one that set me free. I found my way in the Corps."

"Then why did you leave it?"

Damn. The question again. Shane was beginning to wonder when people would stop asking her that. She sighed. "I served my time. I couldn't handle the war anymore. They said I could leave if I wanted to. I wanted to"

"'They' just came to you, out of the blue, and asked if you wanted to leave?"

Ah, hell. She wouldn't be able to avoid the questions for long. She took a long deep breath and answered. "Something happened. It doesn't matter what. I went down and the enemy caught me and another pilot. We were POWs for some time. She died. When I came back I discovered another pilot, another friend of mine died on the mission too. They put me through a thousand tests and the shrinks said I was not fit for combat. I wasn't crazy, I'd be fine on normal conditions, but during combat, I might freak out. The commodore said he could find me a job on planet, instructing or something but since the dammed shrinks said I couldn't fight, then I couldn't fight. I could leave if I chose to. I'm not made to be a desk jockey, so I chose to leave."


"It was a long time ago..."

"On TV, they said the AIs took care of the enemy's prison camps."

Shane remained silent.

"How long were you in there?" Lauren's voice was cracking.

"It's not important. I'm back now."

"Did it have to do with that peace conference they kept talking about a few months ago? You stopped writing Anne around that time and we wondered..."

"It had something to do with it, yes."

"What did they..."

"Laure, it's okay. I'm here. I'm fine."

"What are you gonna do now? Go back to lifeguarding?"

"I'm a little old for lifeguarding, Laurie."

"So what?"

"I don't know. I'll figure something out. I always do, don't I?"

Annie was washing dishes when they entered the house. Ed was probably tucking Marion in. Annie appeared at the living room, her hands wet. She saw her sisters and dried her hand on her pants.


"Hi", Laurie answered.

"Shane, there's some food if you want it. Do you?"


"I'll get it. Lauren?"

"I can eat." Lauren and Shane entered the kitchen and sat at the table across from each other. Anne handed them food and stood a few steps away, leaning on the sink, looking at her feet.

"You know, you'll pay the same price if you sit." Lauren said.

Shane smiled. Annie approached them and sat in the chair beside Lauren.

"This is good." Shane said.

"Ed's mom made it."

"Oh, I figured that." Laurie commented.


"Huh, nothing. It's just... when you cook, it tastes... different."

"Different? Oh. For your information, I did make the mashed potatoes."

"It tastes great." Shane smiled at her sister.

"Of course, Shane has been eating Marine food for the past 2 years. Shoe laces, if well-cooked and with a little bit of salt would taste good to her"

"True.", Shane agreed.

Lauren laughed and Shane put the down her fork and tried to fight back the laughter. "Oh, thank you so much the two of you! You make me feel so good!"

That was it and Shane couldn't fight anymore. She started laughing.

"I'm sorry, Annie".

Ed was heading for the kitchen when he heard the giggling. He got near enough to see the three women but away enough not to be seen by them. They were laughing and eating and having fun. It had been a very long time since he'd seen the Vansen sisters just siting together, enjoying each other. Ed smiled softly and turned away.

"Merry Christmas" he said. This time out loud.

"Merry Christmas." The women turned and answered.


Back : To General Fiction