Disclaimer: Space: Above and Beyond belongs legally to Glen Morgan, James Wong, FOX Entertainment, Hard Eight productions and whoever else who has a claim on them.
Authors note: If I have to dedicate this story to anyone, it will have to be to my angry angel: Jack. Your light will shine forever in the hearts of those you help every day. And when you get home for Christmas, you'll get a big surprise. I'll be waiting, my angel.
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THE LITTLEST ANGEL
Bethesda Naval Hospital, 20th of December 2064
"Try again, Colonel" the Nurse said, her eyes not leaving the man in the wheelchair.
Colonel Tyrus Cassius McQueen looked at her then stood up slowly. He let go of the wheelchair and pushed himself away from it. He swayed for a moment but the young nurse did not move, just stood there with her arms crossed. He took a step, then another before he finally fell.
The nurse walked towards him and helped him up and to the wheelchair. "You have to try harder, Colonel," she said as he sat down. She looked a lot like Damphousse, except that she was taller, leaner and with dyed hair. It was cut short and made her look like a teenager. "It's Christmas in a few days. And I have no intentions of wheeling you around all day"
McQueen looked down, his will broken a long time ago. They had given him this damn AI leg and now the expected him to walk on it. Nurse Joan was the worse. She never helped him and never got anything for him. She just told him to do it himself. What a sick humour. He was a wounded man.
She wheeled him to his room and didn't move a finger from there. He had to self help himself into the bed. She stood there with her arms crossed over her chest. "You don't try hard enough, Colonel," she said for the thousand time.
"I try, God damnit!" he yelled in a childish fit of rage. He knocked the flowers beside his bed over.
She looked at him, her voice calm as she said, "You better clean that up" she smiled and walked out, leaving him there alone.
2063Y, 19th of December 2064
"Jesus! Where do they comes from?" Nathan West asked as more Chigs popped up from their left flank. He fired at them.
"I dunno!" Hawkes shot two. "I'd like to know, someday!"
"Yeah, me-" Nathan started but instead he cried out in pain as a bullet hit him. He fell down on the ground, eyes closed and bleeding.
"NO!" Shane screamed, crawling over to his body. "Nathan! Nathan!"
West coughed, blood coming up between his lips. He met Shane's eyes, scared. He tried to talk but the darkness just overcame him.
Bethesda Naval Hospital, 21st of December 2064
"Get him into OR"
"Damn, they did a bad job onboard the Saratoga. Dr. Jones, prepare for a transfer"
Joan watched from a distance before approaching one of the other nurses. "What going on?" she asked, nodding her head towards the stretch with the unconscious Marine.
"That's one of the 58th. Nathan West, I think" the nurse replied before he walked away.
Joan bit her lip, a good idea suddenly coming to mind. She walked out of ER and towards the Colonel's room. She marched right in, not caring about his rather undressed state. She threw a look and him and then waited until he was dressed.
"They brought in a Wild Card," she said, suddenly, the words hitting McQueen like a wall.
Vansen? Damphousse? Who? He couldn't get himself to ask and he didn't have to. She said it soon enough.
"It's Nathan West. It doesn't look good" her voice was cold as she told him. She leaned against the wall, her arms crossed over her chest. "By the way, they rescued Shane Vansen and Vanessa Damphousse. They are onboard the USS Saratoga, recovering"
McQueen clenched his fists. "Is he going to make it?" he asked her as he swung his legs off the bed and his feet hit the ground with a 'slap' sound.
Joan scratched an itch and looked at him. "I'm not sure. You can see him as soon as they are finished with him in OR"
"You want me to walk there?" he hissed, his ice-cold eyes meeting hers.
Nurse Joan gave him a small smile. "You can wait until later. I'll wheel you over as soon as they are finished" she said before heading out.
McQueen laid down again, scowling. West must have been in really bad shape if they send him here for recovering and operations. He wasn't tired, just worried. West could be fighting for his life, here, so close to Christmas.
He was wheeled in by Joan. As he saw Nathan's unconscious form lying on the bed, his chest tightened. This was one of his kids, lying there. Joan put him beside the bed and McQueen looked over Nathan's face. The young man would have looked like if he was sleeping, if it hadn't been for the respirator and his taped eyes. His head -as well as his chest- was bandaged.
McQueen reached out, taking the young man's hand. "Jesus, West" he muttered, looking at the man. "What kinda mess are you putting yourself in?"
Joan watched McQueen, never seeing the Colonel care for anything like that. Ever after he had come to the hospital, Tyrus Cassius McQueen had been the most negative, short tempered and quiet. This was a different McQueen, sitting there. This McQueen was holding on that young Marine's life with all he had. She smiled, realizing again that she might have found the cure for the Colonel.
She walked out, leaving the colonel alone with his Marine.
Bethesda Naval Hospital, 22nd of December 2064
No changes. West's condition was still critical. McQueen had refused to leave his side, only been forced away when West went into a cardiac rest and the doctors had to do their thing.
Now, sitting in his room, McQueen couldn't help himself but too look over to the door. He waited for Joan, needing her help, but she didn't come. Another nurse came, giving him food.
Damn her to hell and back, McQueen thought bitterly. Leave an invalid tank like me here.
What McQueen did not know was that Joan was monitoring his movements, her eyes locked with the screen. She sipped her coffee, her eyes not leaving the screen. Finally she smiled, as McQueen swung the blanket off his body and swung his legs off the bed. Carefully he supported himself before taking one step, and then another towards the closet. He opened it, taking out his black flightsuit and white turtleneck shirt. He took it out.
McQueen then sat down in the wheelchair before getting addressed. One leg at the time, so to speak. He gave the artificial leg a critical look before putting it down in the leg of his pants.
Half an hour later he was finished, even his boots tied. He stood up, pasty and a bit shaking, and sat down on the bed. This would take some time. Joan grinned and walked away from the monitor, and towards the corridor.
Bethesda Naval Hospital, 23rd of December 2064
McQueen was denied access to West's room. By that meaning that Joan removed his wheelchair, leaving him totally on his own. McQueen looked desperately around, not fining his books or his computer. He didn't have the strength to get up. He was defeated. He was alone. And so was Nathan.
That bothered him the most. When West had been wounded on Cer and was brought to the Saratoga with a memory loss, McQueen had been there every step of the way. And at that time only his sanity had been at stake. Now it was his life.
Due to heavy with snow in the New York area, Nathan's parents couldn't make it to see their son. Kylen was in Europe recovering from her time as a Prisoner of War.
McQueen damned Nurse Joan again. Would she never leave him alone?
Bethesda Naval Hospital, 24th of December 2064 McQueen couldn't take it anymore. The clock was about 22:30. He swore and swung his legs over the side of the bed, standing up. "Don't fail me now" he warmed as he took a step. Then another and another. He got dressed and then, almost exhausted, made his way to Nathan's room.
The corridor was quiet. No wonder, considering that most of the people were on they way home. McQueen walked in the hatch, steadying himself on the bulkhead. He looked over at Nathan, lying unconscious on the bed. He walked over, panting, before sitting down beside him. He took the young man's hand and held it tight, not wanting to let go. He listened to his breathing, then his In Vitro senses woke. He wasn't alone. Turning, he saw Joan standing by the hatch, a small smile on her face.
"Motivation and dedication, Colonel. Isn't that all you needed?" she asked, nodding over to West. She walked and sat down beside McQueen. "Nathan woke up yesterday. He will be all right. He needs a few weeks to recover, but he should be back on active duty by February"
McQueen looked at her, puzzled. "Why did you-?"
"Steal your wheelchair?" she chuckled and looked at him. "You didn't care about anything. You resisted our treatment. Then Nathan was wounded and they brought him here. I suddenly saw something burning inside you. You care for this man. And you would do anything to be here if he might was dying. So...I kept you from here to make you want it enough to accept your new leg and walk on it"
It made sense. It actually made sense. McQueen was about to say something when Nathan groaned and opened his eyes. Joan looked at her watch. "Merry Christmas" she said, standing up and walking out.
Nathan opened his eyes slowly, looking at the Colonel. "Hey..." his voice was sore and almost unintelligent.
"Just relax now," McQueen said, a smile coming to his face as he looked at his wounded Wild Card.
Nathan coughed and McQueen gave him some water. "Who was that?" he asked, nodding towards the still swinging hatch.
McQueen just smiled, turning his head to look at the hatch. "Just the littlest angel, West. Just the littlest angel"
Where ever you may be
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