Disclaimer: The characters of Cooper Hawkes, T.C. McQueen and the 58th belong to Glenn Morgan, James Wong, and Hard Eight Pictures, Inc. borrowed with appreciation but without permission. No copyright infringement intended.

Farthest Man From Home

It didn't change anything.

During the day McQueen was the same hard nosed bastard he'd always been. He drilled the Wild Cards with his customary efficiency, riding over their protests, training them the way he had been trained.

When West went AWOL after the lone Vesta colonist was rescued, McQueen knew that Vansen and Hawkes would follow. All he could do was give them cover, feeling that little catch in the throat that said the one I love is at risk. He fought it down to a manageable level, but it never quite disappeared.

Vansen's report that Hawkes was down sent ice through his veins, and he had immediately ordered an APC to Vesta. Only the fact that they had picked up two more survivors saved the three pilots from a court martial - that and the strings McQueen had pulled. All of his efforts had been for naught though, until a stranger had stepped in and declared the incident a non-event. It didn't happen was the core's response. McQueen could live with that, his squad alive, his lover safe. After lights out, McQueen had left the officer's lounge to find Cooper waiting for him outside his cabin.

"Someone's going to notice."

Hawkes was unconcerned. "They know."

The Col said nothing, just ushered Hawkes into his room and shut the door behind them. Away from human sight, his shoulders slumped as he let go the public facade, dropped the marine image, and became himself.

Hawkes was the only one he let see this side of him, the stress of being the only tank of command rank onboard, always judged and measured, never allowed to make mistakes.

Hands reached for his shoulders, soothing the knotted muscles, carefully steering clear of the sensitive lump below his hairline.

McQueen had discovered this sensitivity only two weeks after he'd been decanted, when one of the supervisors at the mines had chosen him for the night. Not to fuck, but to watch.

Unable to cope, barely comprehending what was expected of him, with the supervisor becoming angrier, an older tank had taken him aside, speaking quietly, calming him, caressing, surreptitiously stroking the raised omphalos, eventually tormenting him into a haze to lust and need, during which he had performed more than adequately.

The next day the other tank had sought him out, explaining that the sensitivity was not to become known to humans but only to fellow in vitros - the humans had enough control over them, another hold was not necessary.

Hawkes had taken advantage of McQueen's lapse into memory, stripping the Col of his jacket, giving freer access to the broad expanse of chest and solid back. He reached around, easing the t-shirt out of tight trousers, fingertips playing lightly over the bare skin, the washboard flat stomach.

The first time Hawkes had seen a naked human, his eyes had been drawn to the navel - he wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, but it wasn't that. A mere dimple. It looked - wrong, somehow, unfinished.

McQueen's stomach was muscles on top of muscles, a legacy of both his genetic make up and a rigid physical regimen. Cooper stroked gently along the line of fine blond hair that arrowed downwards, venturing further until a stirring under his hand signaled the Col's return to the present.

In vitros may be infertile, but they sure weren't impotent, McQueen thought, pressing back against his lover's engorged phallus. Just the opposite. Given the sexual stamina of the average tank, and the hormone levels that went with it, humanity would be up to its ears in children if they were able to breed.

He turned within the circle of Hawkes' arms, beginning his trade mark gesture - up the back to Hawkes' omphalos. Once there he stopped, concerned to see a slight look of distaste on his face.

"What is it?" he queried.

Hawkes look away, then drew McQueen into a hug, hooking his chin over McQueen's shoulder before answering. "When the AI's caught us down on Bunuel, one of them touched me there. It was ...., " he trailed off.

McQueen shuddered, remembering impersonal medical check ups and probing fingers. "The AI's know." he replied eventually, a small spasm running over his body. "They use that knowledge. Its a standard torture technique on tanks.."

"It felt ... wrong," Hawkes whispered.

"I know." Deliberately, McQueen brushed over Cooper's omphalos. It swelled beneath his fingers, and he felt another swelling at his groin. He licked his fingers and repeated the gesture, circling over the fleshy nub, changing tempo and direction, varying the pressure until Hawkes was stifling cries, his cock threatening to rip through his uniform.

Slowly McQueen walked towards the bed, then sat on the edge, guiding Hawkes to his knees in front of him. With one hand he removed his trousers, continuing the teasing movements, then pressed Hawkes face to his groin.

A hot mouth opened, a cool tongue licked experimentally over his swollen glans and he was taken in, buried in fire, until the urge to thrust was overpowering. Taking a deep breath, he threaded his other hand through Hawkes' wild mane, pulling him away, then letting him sink back again, repeating the move several times, before returning to tease Hawkes' omphalos, allowing Cooper to set the rhythm. It was fast and furious, the pilot obviously very near the edge. When McQueen lightened the pressure Hawkes moaned around his mouthful, then pushed back onto the fingers, bending his head further to display his neck. Answering the silent demand, the Col scraped one fingernail over the lump, rewarded immediately by a choked cry of completion. Cooper slumped forward, cock still in his mouth.

Withdrawing, McQueen pulled him onto the bed, quickly pulling down dampened trousers and pants, before entering the pliant body, lubricated only by saliva. Hawkes flinched then relaxed, too accustomed to McQueen to be more than slightly sore from the rough entry. McQueen plundered the willing depths, searching for and finding the internal button that had Hawkes erect again, fucking hard in an effort to replace unpleasant memories with happier ones.

McQueen gasped as Hawkes tightened around him, and they finished together, lying joined for several minutes before McQueen gathered the strength to leave the warm refuge.

"Think of that next time someone touches you there," he instructed, rolling. over to lie beside the sated tank.

Hawkes looked sideways at him. "You ... think it'll happen again?"

"We're at war, Hawkes. You're a marine. You tell me."

Cooper shivered, moving closer to the warm body beside him. McQueen threw his arm across his lover's chest, and drew him in. "Don't think about it. Use the fear, it'll make you faster, quicker. Use it, don't let *it* use you."

He brushed back the hair that fell over Cooper's eyes. He'd never have a child of his own, and god knows what he felt for Hawkes wasn't in the least paternal, but somehow when Hawkes came to him, expecting him to have all the answers, he felt as he imagined a father would.

The Core had been his father, tough but fair, disciplined but not harsh. The least he could do was be the same for Hawkes and the other Wild Cards. Even if sometimes he had the urge to bash West and Hawkes' heads together, and tell them to grow up.


Thinking Hawkes to be asleep, the voice startled him, the rarely used nick name even more so.

"I love you."

Looking into deep brown eyes, McQueen was pleased to see the uneasiness gone, only love, tiredness and a faint lingering trace of lust showed. "I love you, too. But sometimes I wish you would grow up."

"Huh? What'd I do?"

McQueen leaned forward, closing the small gap between them. His tongue flicked out to wet his lips before he pressed them gently against his lover's. "Go to sleep," he ordered.

Next : Part Three - Mutiny

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