|Note: This is based on a story I read about Colquitt and Cooper. I can't rememebr what that was called but it was a really great story. I salute the author. As they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery. My version of characters. BTW, there's a teeny element of slash ie M/M interaction. So stay away if its not your cup of tea.
Thanks to Arthur on the saablist who gave me a tutorial about lidar all that techie stuff and those pics of hale-bopp. I still can't see it here in Malaysia. Guess I'll just have ta wait another 3000 years. :-D
Wrong To Wish On Space Hardware
NO SATTELLITE TRANSMISSION FREQUENCY AVAILABLE.
That's the end of the water.
'Kay Coop, yer on yer own.
No water, the satellite ain't talking to you and Colonel Colquitt, who's the only guy on this mission who has a clue of what's what is in three hundred separate pieces.
At least I took care of that. Won't be coming again soon.
Stars look ...different tonight.
Yeah and maybe one of them's the Toga. Looking, waiting for me.
Get real. They dont even know you're alive. Its been 11 days now. And it was a Black Ops. Site unknown. Who the hell's gonna be looking fer you?
The space they chose for the radio set-up was choice. Under low brush; behind a steep hill and bordered by criss crossing streams. Thickets ripe with green and fruit. An occasion to wear their fatigues.
Hawkes liked the lightweight fatigues. The armour they inevitably wore in space battle was restrictive and heavy. And he thought he looked pretty good in mottled green, brown and black. He had just discovered personal vanity.
Looking good was never an option when he lived on the streets. It brought too many problems. He'd never had to succumb to rent boy status like so many IV delinquents. He'd merely eked a living on the streets with petty theft and what the guys called 'salvaging'.
Salvaging was a trial to all owners of shops. A familiar nightmare for any law abiding retailer. It was what used to be called shoplifting. However the street boys didn't take stuff on the racks now. Due to the strict revision of the FDA laws on consumer items, shopowners had to relay a certain amount of their product to the Anti-Copyright and Fraud unit almost bi-monthly for investigation. Copyright infringement had become rife since 2020's and the world was tired of getting toothpaste that was actually talc and water or petrol tablets principally made from ground ash.
And the set aside merchandise was not considered property of the people who'd paid for them due to the security which the government agency could not provide for them while in transport.
Hawkes and boys like him would steal these shipments and sell them on open market. People took their chances but at least it was cheap.
Colquitt twiddled with the dish of the radio. He set the terrain analyser on the ground and stood to study his temporary domain.
Cooper didnt know many men who could look so arrogant and so stupid at the same time.
" Ah..Sir? Y'think ya gave the chigs enough time to spot you by now?"
Colquitt trained a killer look on him.....
Oh shit, thought Cooper. Shot my mouth off again without thinking.
......and then grinned.
Ah, smell that. Damp soil, ozone and wet leaves. Campfire time, without the fire. They had a coil cooker/heater on which their pot of coffee was chirruping to a boil. Dry rations. Just great.
Yup, decided Colonel Colquitt. This was just like camping on Earth. Even down to the faint cricket sounds. Maybe they weren't 'crickets' exactly. Some kind of insect life definitely. Any place as lush as this had to have some pest and vermin life. Bug free camps were just too rare.
Coop seemed to have no problems sleeping rough. Poor kid. Didn't seem to be too happy to be in the Marines in general, and this mission in particular. Of course, most like..these IV types were drafted into the service, so it didn't really surprise him that the boy had so much repressed anger and frustration toward authority figures. He was glad now that he could offer him a reason to go on this no-end mission. Honorable discharge with full gratuity.
"Argh!" exclaimed the IV smashing his hand impotently several times into the flat pile of waterproofing which was serving as his pillow. He mashed the pile into a semblance of shape and lay down again.
" Can't sleep?" asked Colquitt.
Cooper seemed to have had enough of wrestling with his makeshift bedding and got off the ground. He stretched and sat on the log opposite Colquitt.
"Um." he answered, moodily.
"Want some of this?" said Colquitt extending a tin mug of steaming whole grounds.
The kid was brusque but he at least tried to be polite.
"So tell me about yerself kid. Seems like we're either gonna be friends or we can be strangers. 'S'up to you."
Hawkes made a face which Colquitt could not decipher.
"What d'ya wanna know?"
Colquitt pursed his lip, " Oh, anythin'. Whatever you wanna say's okay. In all probability we'll both be chig play-dough by tomorrow, so nothing you say is gonna incriminate you in the future."
Hawkes had to smile at that. This Colonel was sure one crazy guy.
"I don't want to be here," was the first thing Hawkes said in answer.
Poor kid. No wonder he was pissed off. Only seven years old and seen more of the dark side of life than most middle aged humans. IV bashing. The streets. Sadistic Monitors. Getting caught. The Philly judge's paternalistic discrimination. No family. Few friends. One big screw up. Till now. He could see the boy crawling on his hands and knees about a mile beneath him in the valley. He was certainly one good Marine. Even if the kid wouldn't admit to himself that this job was one he excelled at.
Looks like he had an additional mission here. He'd get the kid through this safely if it killed him.
"...and then you went back to kill the silicates that did that to him?" Colquitt nodded. Reminiscence was as bad as going through it the first time. Even now he could remember the smell of Jack's blood painting the walls of the AI dungeon.
" He was a good friend huh?"
" Yeah he was."
Cpt. Jack Delancey was more than a good friend but that was by-the-by. No use telling the kid Jack was his lover and scare the shit out of him.
Hawkes saw the sudden flash of pain in the Colonel's midnight eyes ... and thought 'oh.'
"Eat your food, son. Getting cold."
Cooper's turn to ruminate by the coffee pot.
"Did'ja ..you know regret how you felt about him?"
Colquitt rubed his eyes. His brain wasn't fully functional yet. What was the kid yattering about?
Hawkes did not look away and Colquitt detected compassion and confusion in that earnest stare. Shit. The kid knew? What? Did he have 'faggot' written all over him?
"You want to know about Jack."
Hawkes mouth quired the affirmative, too scared to open his mouth in case his temporay CO took offence.
"Jack was my buddy, could tell him everything. Nothing was too sacred." Colquitt's voice was soft with emotion. "Then suddenly I found myself wondering how it'd be to kiss him, touch him ...while we were on duty. That scared the heck outta me. I thought I was turning into some kinda pervert. Jack .... he was wondering the same about me I guess, coz one day we were pissed to the shins and we just 'did it' and thought 'well, shit, werent that bad.'. So we kept doin' it."
Cooper's eyes narrowed. Where was the earlier affection he'd glanced at before? This was about sex?
"Don't mistake me. I loved the guy. Too much maybe." Colquitt sighed. If he was honest he'd admit to this kid that nothing in his compartmentalised mind had prepared him for suddenly being in love with his best friend of twenty years ... and as a result his psyche had overloaded on the physical aspects of their relationship. Did he regret it? Hell yes. Would he have done it this way again? Anytime.
" Aw..kid . What do I know? After thirty six years of being a macho shit I found myself giving mouth to mouth to Jack! Dont ask me how it happens. It passed me completely.
Cooper nodded mimicking understanding, in reality ... at a total loss.
Barren winds traced their path down the craggy terrain. Dusty dry gorges everywhere. The area was unchanging for several hundred miles. A fourteen mile trek to start the day was not what Cooper had in mind.
They had finally pinpointed the target site. Cooper placed the signal relay unit on the ground. The hole he'd made in the dry soil was large enough to cover the signal-booster for the detonator completely. A dry distance of five miles, Colquitt had said.
As he worked he mused about the revelation he'd uncovered. So Colquitt was into guys. Weird. He'd never expected that of him. Jeez, the guy was a Colonel. And that brought to mind his own 'ornery IV Colonel. Could McQueen be gay?
Shit. Even the thought of McQueen and sex in the same sentence freaked him out. Nah. McQueen had been married before to some doctor. What makes a guy start to have feelings like that about his buddy? From what Colquitt hinted, his friend had been 'just' a friend longer than he'd been his lover. To care like that about someone was hard enough but when it was your best pal, didn't that make it impossibly hard? He, for one didn't think he could survive that kind of tragedy.
West, he counted as his best friend. His first natural born friend. West had been the first detractor of IV marines in the 58th but gradually they found uneven similarities in their dissimilitude. A multitude of little directionless kindnesses and grudging empathy bridged that virgin channel between human and IV. They found a way to connect in a viscerally male manner that Hawkes had never experienced before. They fought like brothers and played together like children. He could not imagine what he'd do if West died and he survived. Maybe he would've been as reckless as Colquitt and re-entered the lair of the silicates for the sole purpose of revenge.
And then there was the sex thing.
Had he ever found West good-looking in that way? He didn't think so.
"You got someone back onplanet?"
"On the Toga."
" Friends, sure."
"I mean ..like a lover."
"Why? You're a good looking kid."
"The girls dont wanna make it with IV guys. There aren't any female IV Marines on the Toga. I ...I do kinda like my Captain coz she's one damn fine lady, real smart too. But she thinks I'm a just a baby."
"Vansen? I remember her. Yeah, she's one fine piece."
Cooper nodded his agreement.
" You only into girls?"
Groggy with sleep, Cooper raised himself on his elbow.
A hand came over his face and then a hard body descended on his own. Trapped in the folds of his bedsuit Cooper could not break free of the hold. A conveniently near hand got his attention...and the sharp end of his incisors.
"Arrgh! Dammit. Hawkes. Its me."
"Sir?" he hissed.
Colquitt was eye level with him. He spun his head around and then glanced up at the ridge top. He gestured with his left hand tight to his body.
Glued as he was, pelvis to pelvis with his superior officer, Cooper could not turn around. He took his word for it.
"What do we do?"
"We have to remain undetected to place the detonators. Priority to mission success. Understand?"
Cooper understood alright. That meant either of them were dispensible.That also meant if he was any judge of character, that Colquitt was about to do something really risky.
"I'm gonna lead them a false trail. You have to set the stuff up at the north point at the designated time. The coordinates are in the computer."
"Sir-" Cooper started loudly.
Colquit merely whispered back, "You have your orders Lt!"
"And you have shit fer brains." That sotto voce.
"I heard that."
"If I weren't so sure that I'd be dead by tomorrow, I'd make a note to file charges of insubordination."
"Then why do it? It's crazy."
Colquitt merely stared.
"It's my job. And yours too."
He had stuff to do yet.
He wasn't ready.
"I'm not ready" he said to the amorphous shape that beckoned.
He neared the ghoul still protesting "I'm not ready."
He'd thought it was a weird dream when he saw the girl again. And this time she was smiling. And eeriely waving her fingers in a chilling mockery of a come-hither gesture.
He knew it was no dream when he saw Colquitt with her.
He was silent. He did not suggest to Hawkes that he ought to follow.
Shit! He was dead.
Am I dead?
It all got too hard to unravel and Cooper let Colquitt and the girl guide him into the light.
The very bright light. The very noisy bright light.
Too tired ....don't care anymore.
Go ahead Mr.Chig asshole.
Slice me up and make soup outta my red-stink body. Fucker. Come near me and I'll rip off your enviro-suit and then you and me can tango a little. We'll see who has the last laugh chiggie baby!
Two down. Whole chig planet to go.
Come get me you suckers. Come get my red-stink butt.
Coherent thought seemed to overtake him at the most surprising times of the seamless immutable days. He'd been sure he had gone completely mental after the second day with the dead chigs stinking up his campsite.
Check the link, he reminded himself.
SATTELITE NOT RESPONDING.
SATTELITE NOT EMITTING SIGNAL.
NO CURRENT SIGNAL.
ILLEGAL PROTOCOL. REQUEST DENIED.
TRANSMISSION NOT RECEIVED.
Nuts! Nuts !Nuts!
How much more could go wrong. He had no radio. He had no water. He was down to recycling urine. There were two alien specimens doing their best to break down into smelly rotten globs in his hovel.
"You stoopid piece of Aerotech shit!"
The dish of the communication relay fell from its perch on the rock.Cooper was tired of arguing with himself.
Will come. Won't come.
Fuck it. He was gonna have his dream and enjoy it. Yeah, baby come to me.
Lately he'd been dreaming of the girl, of Shane ..... except it wasn't Shane.
It looked like Shane...if she were three days gone with a dozen bullets in her chest. Still she was kinda attractive in her own way. Hell, she was more beautiful than some of the ladies he'd seen on the streets of Philly and 'they' were alive!
She wanted him to go somewhere. Higher ground, she said. He was too low.
So he did.
He got his pack together the next dawn and shuffled along till he reached a cavern on the hillside. Good idea Hawkes. Chigs didnt like heights and they hated caves. Well she definitely turned out to be a guardian angel of some kind. Not much to look at but she certainly came through.
The chigs would never get him here. And even if he passed out and eventually died of dehydration and exhaustion at least his body wouldnt be cut up into bits and his eyes dug out, like he'd seen them do to the Colonel.
He knew Colquitt shouldn't have gone. But what could he have done? He had his orders. That was the privilege of rank, he supposed. Got to die any damn way ya pleased.
And he'd done it too. Set up the denonators. Nobody spotted him. The Chig -AI supply site was blown to smithereens in a controlled explosion. It was simultaneously linked to eight other explosions all over Tigris.
The enemy base on Tigris was gone without any aerial casualties. All in all a very successful mission. Except for those who got discovered by the Chig patrols. Like Colquitt.
He had to stop thinking about that or he'd have bad dreams about him.
The first sounds he heard were muffled human voices. At least he thought they were.
One was clear, deep and commanding; the other female, decisive and a little worried. He tried to respond but his limbs wouldn't cooperate. His eyes wouldn't function properly. He couldn't see through the psychedelic haze. The voices were fading in and out, weaving and confusing.
"... too long under the sun....dehydration ...severe fluid loss.. to give him clermonitol...yes ... know he's an invitro..right colonel ...won't give him much.."
" ...Is the area secure Vansen? Then we.."
"..two more chigs on the left rise beyond that hill, Sir."
"Patrol the area while we check the underground barrack Lt. You..."
"...musta killed all the chigs by himself.."
"...he salvaged the Colonel's body, hid it there ..."
Then a voice that he could never mistake, soft and very concerned. Cooper felt good enough to reply but his useless body held him back, dragging his conscioussness back to the dark place where he could not control his body - only watch from within himself as a crew of medics tried to revive him.
"...can you hear me Coop? Hey buddy don't you scare me like this. You'll be okay. Hang on ...."
The voice faded and Cooper allowed the drugs beating against his consciousness to lull him into a cleansing sleep. His last conscious thought was that he would finally be allowed to go home. Back to the 'Toga.
Cooper Hawkes recovered with the verve of his invitro origins, healing close to 75% in less than five days. Even the doctors were amazed by his recovery rate, having been without food or water for close on 2 weeks the Lt. suffered little more than severe sunburn, a couple scratches and persistent lethargy from drug sensitivity and dehydration. The real wounds were the mental ones, the ones that were harder if at all impossible to physic.
Night after night Hawkes woke screaming in a cold sweat until he finally had to be strapped into his bed for fear of hurting himself or others in his nightmare frenzy. He didn't dream of getting killed by Chigs. Somehow the terror of his dream had no face, had no form. It chased him in the dark corners of the Toga, here where he thought he'd achieved sanctuary.
He was trapped, couldn't breathe , couldn't run ....only stand and wait for the inevitable ....then he would awaken to the dimmed lights of Sick Bay, and Nurse Lawrence would glare at him for waking the other patients. But Lawrence was a kindly old soul. She would tuck him firmly back to bed with a strict little peck on his forehead "To keep the bad thoughts away", she would say. No one and nothing would dare cross Nurse Lawrence. Cooper smiled at that thought and slumped back to bed.
At the end of a week the doctors finally released the disgustingly healthy Lt. Hawkes.
Nurse Lawrence was sorry to see him go, her maternal heart had been touched by his boyish charm. Cooper promised to visit and left with the company of his mates of the 58th.
McQueen welcomed him back with a gruff hug and a warning to keep the battery pack on the satellite transponder active next time he went on extended mission. Their search and testing of Cooper's and Colquitt's equipment had revealed that their battery crystal had leaked through insufficient servicing. Cooper forbore mentioning how he'd dumped the entire bunch of machinenery to the ground.
The 58th were only too pleased to get him back. He absorbed the attention showered on him like a dry sponge, deprived too long of human kindliness and affection. And then it was work, work, chop, chop.
It was another day of battling chigs with superior alien aircraft.
Later when they returned dirty and smelling of ozone and cannonfire, the 58th retired happy and sated with their group tally of 16 chig fighters. Phousse and Vansen headed to the showers to slough off the skin of war and incipient destruction that inevitably enveloped them all when they headed out of port. Wang followed, leaving Coop and West in the locker room, removing their body armor.
West stripped off tiredly, peeling off his white undershirt and chucking the rest of his stuff on the floor. Unthinkingly , Cooper glanced over at his mussed up friend and thought how desirable he looked even dirty and tired like that.
Ohmigod! Where did that come from? Shit. Shit. Shit. He thought West was cute?
He turned back to face his friend.
He could almost feel the lean muscled flesh of his torso and shoulder under his fingers, his hands itched to run through his short thick hair, pull his face down for a long soulful kiss. Cooper groaned audibly .
"Hmm..?" said West, not turning round. "Whatcha say?"
" Er ... nuthin'."
'Good thing he's not looking', thought Coop, staring down at his pants. Grabbing his towel he headed into the showers still partially clothed. The bunched towel hid the front of him as he slid past West and prayed that the cold shower would solve his embarassing little problem. West didn't look up, absorbed in untying his boots.
Cooper almost yelped as the cold needles of water hit his tired muscles. He'd hoped for a long hot shower but it was impossible now in his 'condition'. In fact his problem was not about to disappear at all, persistent devi . He would have to concentrate harder on getting rid of it.
It soon became impossible when the object of his sudden lust stepped into the showerhead alongside his. Damn communal showers!
Cooper turned ever so slightly away from his friend, surreptitiously studying his wet body, lithe and looselimbed, luxuriating in the warm water. It did no good for his concentration. Without even really looking he knew exactly what West was doing at this stage of his shower, he'd seen it enough times. When had it begun to affect him so?
At first West would lower his shoulders against the powerful burst, allowing the water to soothe, to drown out all external stimulus. Then he would flex each limb, regaining mobility after being stuck in the cockpit of their Hammerheads for so long. Reaching for his canister of marine issue liquid soap he would proceed to annoint his chest then shoulders and torso with lather, fingers slipping and sliding over warm wet skin. Then ducking his head he would submit his scalp to the pulsing spray, washing away the lather in his thick shock of hair.
By now Cooper's imagination had totally destroyed any controlled mental process. Unable to stand it any longer - this masochistic voyeurism he'd taken to -Cooper rushed out, grabbing his towel on the way.
With soap in his eye Nathan turned to glance at his fleeing friend. " Hey Coop ! Y'forgot to turn the water off!", he shouted, reaching for the knob.
" Sheesh. Wonder what's up with him?" he asked no one in particular.
Cooper's heart was pounding.
He leant into the corner of the empty rec room still half dressed from his unplanned flight.
Cooper Hawkes was suddenly learning that desire like death could strike with fatal precision at the most unexpected and untimely moments. And that scared him.
Still recovering from his emotional ordeal on Tigris, Cooper was unwittingly seeking comfirmation of his own corporeality in the most tangible and essential way he knew how.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
"..so I asked him ...y'know really cool like, if he was going to the Tun after the War Games on Friday. He looked at me a little funny... then he said yeah and he'd see me there. So? Was that a date? I mean, he looked real serious and all and he was kinda casual ...but I thought y'know, he's always so hyper ....and this time he was just so ..so...civil.."
" Melissa,honey you just gotta take things easy and not expect every encounter you have with West to mean something. Jeez girl, if he ever asked you the time, you'd be pickin' out china for the wedding."
Ensign Melissa Banks of the Communication Unit sighed nodding in agreement with her older and wiser friend Sheila Drammond. "I know, I know. It's just...y'know he's so nice. I heard from everybody about how he was such a pain in the ass and all, but he's actually real nice ..and so gorgeous."
Thirty year old Lt. Drummond rolled her eyes in disgust but stifled her rebuke. The kid was young - her first crush on a hot-shot jock like West. She herself had a thing for West's Colonel, but that was another thing entirely and could hardly be acted on in her position as chief liaison between the officers of the Toga and the Aerotech officials.
Menial, and mostly smoothing ego clashes between civilian corporation and military primacy - but it was still better than a desk job back home. She'd done her share of grunt work. Melissa was still very green, about her duties on the Toga and with the opposite sex. She felt it was her duty to warn the girl about characters like West. As a senior officer and her direct SO, she couldn't do any less.
"Trust me girl. You should 've seen him before Mcqueen chewed him out for pullin' stunts out in combat. Don't get me wrong. He's a great pilot. Cooper and he are the best topguns you could ever hope for the US marines to have-but he used to be real cocky. Cooper was a rebel too but once Mcqueen hauled his ass over coals he stayed real good.
"West was stubborn. He was always acting like this pilot jock, betting on maneuvers and stuff like that, till Cooper beat him on a six-eight formation. And all that kiddin' round on-flight is real dangerous. Weird though. After Hawkes kicked his butt that time ...they became real good buddies. West was kinda racist before I thought. You know... 'unclean IVs and stupid tanks' ...stuff like that. And now ..its like their joined at the hip! Guys! Go figure!"
Melissa absorbed all that was said of West. Sheila was very observant and a keen student of human psychology. She gave a short profile on everyone they came into contact with daily ...especially the 58th, West's team.
Melissa could tell she liked Damphousse and Commodore Ross but thought Vansen was a little uppity. Wang she didn't appear to know very well, as even she thought he was really quiet. She used the word private but Melissa knew she meant that the boy was a loner.
Mcqueen, she knew was the focus of her boss's attention at the moment. If he was a little younger Melissa would go for him too. He had those eyes that could melt your knees and sometimes when she studied his body, especially his butt, she would feel this odd warm sensation. She wondered if Sheila felt it too - the animal magnetism that Mcqueen coudn't keep under wraps. His regulation space suit covered every part of him but knowing where all the zippers and openings were, she had the urge to open them and explore within. The way Sheila often gazed at his upper torso told her that she too had fantasies of shedding Mcqueen's clothes. But at the moment, Melissa's 'hots' were for West. She broke off that thought to listen to Sheila.
"..actually Cooper's a lovely boy. You can't take what he says to heart because he's not well socialised being a seven year old Invitro and all. In fact if he weren't so like my kid brother I'd screw him silly. He's a helluva sexy guy. And friendly. We have a kinda platonic thing going. He sees me as mommy I think, poor kid. Look, here he is..."
Cooper was hailed over and introduced to Melissa who studied his male beauty and mentally exclaimed wow!
Yes, he was cute, no ... seriously beautiful. In fact he could outshine some girls in the corps; those big brown eyes shone with such innocent sincerity and those lips....
But then again that wasn't saying much. Beauties like Vansen were the exception. Melissa knew she was no dog either and her chances with West were good if she didn't blow it by her over-enthusiasm.
"Coop, guess who's got the hots for your buddy West?" said Sheila suddenly gesturing wildly at Melissa as Hawkes took his seat. He hovered between sitting and bolting out of the chair.
"We were wondering if you could..you know tell us a bit about West. What kind of girl he likes? Does he have a girlfriend?"
Frowning Cooper accepted the beer that was placed before him. "Well he's got this fiance but she's missing. One of the colonists. He's still looking for her."
'A problem, shit' cursed Melissa inwardly.
"But as to the here and now? There's no one right?" queried Shiela.
The two ladies smiled secret feminine smiles and he guessed what the plan was. West was in for a good time. Seduction was a very powerful thing for marines with their seclusionary life. Didn't take much for two people to fall into bed.
He wished he could do the same.
"Hot date huh?"
"Yeah. Banks from Communications."
"She's real pretty."
For a brief second West's eyes darkened as he remembered Kylen. But it was time to move on. He was still looking. He'd never stop looking for her, but he had stopped waiting. He wasnt going to go out with blue balls, that was for sure. With that crisis of soul resolved, Nathan returned to the task at hand. He wondered what was gonna happen with Melissa. He'd just go with it and hope for the best.
West was getting dressed very leisurely, eyes blank.
Cooper coughed. " Going to the Tun?"
West turned to look strangely at his pal, smiling ever so slightly patronisingly as he said "Where else is there to go on the Toga Coop?"
Nathan was telling him about the new Hammerhead adjustments and to take care when easing the nose out of dock ... technical details that were unusually dry and unappealing tonight.
"What?" he fussed with his Marine issue tie. Darn knots .
"I know kid."
Nathan's suddenly serious profile gave Cooper a start. He knows?
"It'll happen to you too. One day some girl is gonna ask you for a date. Hey if you weren't so choosy you'd have plenty y'know. Not every gal's gonna be like Vansen. Shane's..special . But you're not in those leagues yet, kiddo."
He stayed up till after light out in the 58th barracks. He guessed he'd still be lying here till reveille next morning.
A soft whisper and a tinkle of a laugh alerted him so he pretended slumber.
The two figures silhouetted in the doorway of the hatch smiled into the kiss. And they kissed again. A snatch of whispered conversation before the slighter one turned, pulling away unwillingly. West waved her away, the smile on his face a token.
The smile that Hawkes guessed would be plastered on his face was even brighter than he imagined.
He was still smiling as he readied for bed...softly humming some song.
Cooper thought he'd known hunger and pain when he lived on the streets like so much human vermin. He was wrong. Nothing could beat what he felt now.
Stars look the same tonight, he mused, gazing past the portholes .
© Odd 1997