AUTHOR'S NOTE: I guess this is many things. It is a disclaimer because as great as the characters are..they're not my own and so this story doesn't want to infringe upon anyone. This is true..I swear it. Secondly, it is a sincere thank-you to those whose hearts and souls are behind this work. It goes out to the cast and crew and goes out to those on-line whose comments and thoughts on what goes on in the show have been appreciated.

And lastly, I suppose, I sincerely hope that you like this, my first entry into the Space fan-fic world. There are bound to be some inaccuracies, I don't claim to be a pro(hey..I'm only 17..gimme a break :).
In any case, I would like feed-back of all types. Thank you, enjoy and as Shane Vansen would say.."We're going in hot so look alive."

Not Rated

Part Two of Two

That was pure hell. For me and for her. Until I was sentenced to the Marines, I'd never given much thought to anyone's' pain besides my own. When I saw the tears on Shane's face, I had this feeling of rage and hopelessness and I don't know why because surely that can't be productive. I didn't know quite what I should be feeling. I mean, it all happened all at once and I guess I've felt loss before like with Pags and Colonel Butts and I guess  that's true and all but this was different..closer to the heart. McQueen said that In-Vitros don't feel pain. I do. Maybe my genetic code is malfunctioning. Maybe I don't care. All I do care about right now is Shane.

She's sleeping now and I feel stupid for reacting so strongly to her falling asleep. It's perfectly normal..I think. I guess it's good for her to be sleeping because she needs her strength if she's gonna make it through this long night. Oh man..she gave me quite a scare but it's just because she's real sick and she's lost a lot of blood. She's hot too. A fever.

I look at my watch. Twenty-one hundred hours. I can't figure time out. It feels like we've been here forever and yet not nearly long enough. In any case, there is still such a long time to go. I hate to admit this to myself but traveling with Shane in her condition is going to slow us down more than I'd like to think about. The wound is really fragile. It doesn't matter..I wouldn't leave her if someone pointed a gun out me and told me to . I think that'd be worse than dying.

There's blood all over my hands and clothes. My left hand hurts like hell... I can barely move it. Woulda thought Shane could be so strong. I guess I woulda. I know she is; she can kick my ass or come pretty damn close anyhow. I've known her long enough to stay the hell outta her way when's she fuming otherwise I'm likely to get spammed.

I wrap my hand with tape and then I see the pain-killers. I should have given her some. When I broke my ribs two years ago in a fight, I spent a couple days in a hospital and what I remember about it most was that the docs and nurses had this thing about waking me up to give me pain-killers and sleeping pills. I tried to explain to them that I was already out and that I wasn't feeling nothing but I guess they figured I was wrong or something. I'm not gonna wake Shane up. Not now anyways.

She's tossing and turning a bit. I don't know if that's from the fever or if she's just dreaming. I know she doesn't like to dream because she always sees her folks getting murdered. I see mine in my dreams sometimes and the weird thing is, I can't help but wonder if I'd be willing to deal with the pain of losing my parents if only I could know that I actually had them.

Shane stirs a bit and it bothers me. I toss my jacket over her and I wish that I had something more for her. Despite her fever, I think she's probably cold. The fire is not enough. I'm cold. Shane comes first. I move closer to her and I try to think what she would do for me if our roles were reversed. I move towards her, pause and then I reach out and I take her into my arms.

Captain Shane Vansen was, in fact, dreaming. It started out the way they all did; at her old house in San Diego, California. The weird thing was that the house seemed to have a brilliant sheet of white light draped over it's dreary familiarness. As Shane moved further into the Living Room, she saw her mother and father standing near the window. They were both wearing military uniforms. As she approached them, eyes scanning left to right for the omnipresent silicates but not seeing them, they turned towards her.

"What happened to you, Shane?" Marian Vansen asked, striding forward to rest a cool hand on Shane's exposed shoulder. Shane glanced quickly down and noticed that her own U.S.M.C. uniform was torn and bloody.

Shane shook her head, "'re alive?"

Her father shook his head gravely and then locked eyes with her, "No, Shane, you're dead."

Shane pushed her mothers' hand off her shoulder and took a step backwards. The world swam about her in insane colors and she began to gasp for air, "No..."

"Shane, tell me, what happened to you?" Marian pleaded, hands folded at her chest in an effort to relay her urgency and concern. "You shouldn't be here! Not yet!" Her eyes shun with unshed tears and obvious grief.

"The 58th. Nathan, Paul, Vanessa. Oh Cooper. Oh God, Cooper," Shane stammered, "He's all alone..."

"Not quite." Another voice said. Shane blinked and froze. Her eyes widened in recognition. Pags. She took a deep breath and then spun and stared in disbelief at the dead pilot.

"This can't be happening. I can't be dead." She whispered to herself.

"You're not," Michael Pagodin replied with a wide smile. He looked so youthful and eager...just the way he'd looked before he'd been murdered by the Chigs on Mars. Lord how that seemed like ages ago.

"Pags, what do you mean?" She listened to how very frightened her voice sounded and it made her angry. Anger is better than fear, she told herself.

"Okay, here's how it is, Captain..oh, by the way, congrats on that. Anyways, you were know that...and you lost a helluva lotta know that too. And, to make matters just that much worse, you got yours elf both a serious infection and a high-grade fever. In short, you need some major medical attention. Now, Coop's done all he can besides sit and wait and I guess pray if that's what he wants to do. What that means is that from here on, it's pretty much up to you, Captain." Pags ran a hand through his hair and then grinned and said, "You know that there's no dandruff in the afterlife. Everyday's a good hair day."

Shane shook her head and rolled her eyes. Thoughtfully she said,"I'm not ready to die..what do I have to do?"

"Do what you always do, Shane, fight the inevitable."

She felt her entire body go numb as the new voice drifted non-intrusively through the dead air. "Jon," She murmured. She turned away from Pags and stared into the passionate and concerned eyes of her beloved Captain Jonathon Oakes.

Jon moved quickly towards her and pulled her protectively into his muscular arms, "Oh Shane, it feels so good to hold you and I wish that I could do it forever." He pushed her away gently and held the startled young woman at arms' length, "But I can't because that would be selfish and you don't belong here."

"He's right, Shane." Another familiar voice said. She knew the voice of Lieutenant Kelly Winslow without even turning. Shane shook her head and took a quick glance around. Her old house wasn't visible through the cloak o f white light which wasn't exactly blinding but it did create an atmosphere of it's own. Winslow said, " As happy as we all are to see you, Shane, you brought us here for a reason and it's our job to send you back for no w. Captain Oakes is don't belong here and it's not your time to rest. You gotta keep fighting."

"I know, "Shane replied, still staring at Jon. "Help me."

"It's all about you now, Shane." Her mother said softly. "I know you are strong enough to make it through this. I never could have believed just how wonderful you would turn out and I am so proud of you." She reached for ward and hugged Shane. "I'm gonna miss you again but at least I'll know, I'll always know that your father and I left at least some imprint on the world with you and your sisters."

Shane smiled, "Yeah, mom, you did."

"Captain Vansen!"

She spun and again her eyes widened at the wild sight of Lieutenant Colonel Raymond T. Butts. He grinned lop-sidely at her. "This is how it is, your mind in it's wounded state is seeing the dead and using them as a doorway   to death. You have got to walk away from this door and go back to the realm of the living. Talk to the living, Captain." He grinned again, "It's as easy as eating pancakes."

She nodded, "Okay." Her father reached forward and hugged her tightly. She smiled at him and squeezed his hand.

Jon Oakes took both of her hands in his, "Good luck, Shane. I guess I don't happen to hope to see you anytime soon." He kissed her on the cheek. "Just concentrate."

Shane closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. As the bright cloak of light began to fade to darkness, voices filled her head.

"Hey, Shane, do me a favor and tell Cooper that I do understand and that we're square. Oh hey..meant to ask you, do Captains get better planes?" That had to be Pags.

And then, just as the light blinked out, Butts said, "Semper Fi, Do or die." And that was it.

Shane blinked and realized that she was still in her old house. Her eyes widened in terror as she saw her parents standing by the window acting out scenes from the horror of her youth. She saw the A.I.'s standing above them with guns and she began to shake her head in disbelief. Gunshots echoed through the air and a scream choked itself in her throat. The A.I. turned and stared at in her in a very cold and calculating manner and her entire re body went numb. The A.I. started to approach her, weapon raised and this time, she did scream.

Her eyelids ripped open and she tried to lurch forward but strong arms held her tight. Breathing hard and nearly crying from the dual torment of both the dream and the pain of her injury, she looked up and gazed into Cooper Hawkes' frightened blue eyes. She took a deep breath and then reached up with a trembling hand and touched his lightly stubbled cheek. Maintaining eye contact with the worried young Lieutenant, Shane Vansen smiled.

They say that when a person as is dangerously close to death as I am that they experience something of a small miracle. I didn't realize before just how very close I was to what Nathan calls "home" but I guess now I realize just how much I want...and need to live.

Two weeks ago, aboard the Saratoga, the 58th challenged the 25th Airborne to a poker tournament. No one bothered to tell the 25th that the 58th knows poker pretty well. To their credit, they played us real hard and eventually it came down to me and Lieutenant Jameson Hoyt. He bet everything his squadron had and so did I. It was all real tense but it was exhilerating. He laid down four sevens and the entire room went dead silent. I looked from face to face and all I saw was a lot of raw nerves. I gave Hoyt my best poker face and laid down a royal flush. I remember that moment so well because after I laid down the cards, I felt Cooper lift me high into the air and spin me. The rest of the 58th surrounded me and we were all laughing and cheering and it all felt so very right. That moment made all the pain and loss so worth because that was when I realized that I wasn't fighting alone and I never would.

When I woke up from something that I'm not sure can be called a dream, Coop was looking at me with such fear. I guess that bothers me more than most things because I know that he doesn't understand emotions very well. The sad thing is that because of this war, he's getting a crash course in it.

He tightens his hold on me and I sink into his arms. He puts his right hand under my neck and lifts my head, "Hungry, Shane?" I know what he's gonna do next; he likes to carry around cans of that damned M.R.E. ham. Lord how I really hate that stuff.

"Oh Coop," I start to say. I feel a shudder rip through my body and I use all the strength I have to keep myself together. After a long moment, I wave him off and look up at him, "It's okay. Coop, the rendezvous point...we gotta get there."

He glances at his watch and I see him frown. He looks at me and shakes his head, "You're in no condition to travel."

"Then you go alone, " I tell him. I don't want to be a hero or a martyr but it's my job to protect him and if I have to die, I'd rather do it knowing that he's alive for one more fight. "Look, Cooper, you can make it with time to go."

"We go together or not at all," He replies. He's being stubborn. He locks eyes with me and says, "You taught me that. Too well maybe."

Slowly, because it hurts like hell, I nod; I wouldn't have left him either. I drop back into his arms and try to think of alternatives but I can feel the dark of sleep and exhaustion settling over me again.

Lieutenant Nathan West stared thoughtfully at his watch. It read: 23:48:17. "Where are they?" He asked his companions. They both shrugged. They had reached the rendezvous site hours earlier and decided to just wait it out. Their radio was being jammed and so there was no way to contact McQueen and ask for an early extraction. Besides, they were down two soliders and none of them had any plans to leave without them.

Paul Wang shook his head, "We split up hours ago...they should be here."

"They should but their not which means that something is preventing them from reaching here." Vanessa Damphousse said. She studied the radio equipment and frowned.

"Paul...if we searched for them...say like maybe five to ten clicks, could we make it back?" Nathan asked. They had survived their part of the battle without any injuries and they'd even managed to take a few names.

Wang never hesitated, "Yes, we'd have to move fast...very fast...but we could do it."

Damphousse stood abruptly and cocked her gun, "Well then, what are we waiting for?"

Nathan nodded grimly, "Let's move out."

The End

Previous: Part One

Alex Queirolo© 4/15/96