DISCLAIMER: Space: Above And Beyond is the property of Morgan & Wong, Fox Entertainment and Hard eight Production. This story is kinda set in my own serie The 7th Force Recon (but must be kept separately since this one is about...the 58th and mostly West) So the characters of the 7th, whoever I might use in this fic, belongs to me.

Authors note: Ho-ho-ho, it's Christmas time again and with that comes the Christmas blues, which I kinda a sucker for. I do the same things every year at Christmas. (I live in Norway so..) I wake up around 09:00, watch River of Stars and the Christmas Cartoons until I get out from bed to help my mom make Christmas Brunch. Then we usually do something about the snow knocking on our door. Then we just relax, read Christmas comics and enjoy ourselves until after dinner, when we attack the gifts. It is better to give than to receive (I am told...) Okay, okay. Enough babbling and let's get on to the fic.

Type of Story: Christmas blues, thoughts and finally a bit distant romance.

I accept negative comments, curses, threats and praises on space_aab@yahoo.no

We wish you a Merry Christmas


Anne Schjerven

My eyes are locked with my watch as the numbers change from 23:59 to 0:00. Slowly I look up to see the Gunnery Sergeant behind the wall beside me look up as well, over to his Radio Operator. He gives her a sign and the woman passes it along. Some Marines smile, others just sigh. Christmas. Yep, it's Christmas again. Strange how fast the last year has gone by and that I am now stuck in a foxhole with the rest of the 58th. Strange to think that I am their CO now…

"Incoming! Hit the deck!"

I press myself against the dirt ground and I try not to shake as the Chig mortal hits. The Christmas spirit doesn't stand a chance here. He look up and hit the back of 2nd Lieutenant Billings. "AIR COVER?" I ask, trying to raise my voice over the firing.

She nods and crawls over to the Radio Operator who belongs to the 7th. The woman shakes her head, her helmet pressed down over her head. The message is clear: No air cover for now. I know that they are trying their best out here but they are scared. Hell, I am scared too. I have just been here too long.

"Captain West! Any new orders? We are getting our asses kicked!" Gunnery Sergeant Azaria looks over to me. He is older than I am, no doubt. Still, I hold the superior rank on this side of the rock.

"Hold them off until air cover comes!" I reply as I fire another round on the Chigs. The weapon hardly recoils and I almost smile at the feeling of it. Just start the carols cause Nathan West is in the frontline.

My thoughts scares me and I sink down against the wall to remove my clip of ammo and change it. Coop makes his way towards me and nudges me. "It's Christmas!" he yells into my ear, his voice strangely happy. Call me the Grinch but his voice irritated me. I guess Cooper still remembers last year and how nice it actually was. He tries to remember that...I try to forget so that I can lose this damn sad feeling.

"I know! Happened 30 mikes ago!" I yell back, moving closer to him. Me and Cooper we have this bond. It was created while we argued on the Saratoga, someplace between the punches and the dirty words. It got deeper when Neil died. I needed someone to be a big brother too and Cooper needed to be taken care of. It was a win-win situation.

Cooper rips me out of my thoughts again. "Get the 7th to call for air cover! We can't hold our position much longer!" he 'requests' oh so elegant. After I got promoted to captain and took over as the Commanding Officer, Cooper became my XO. He knows a lot, that In Vitro. Apparently he isn't as stupid as he looks.

"You do it!" I say. I have had enough tiptoeing around the 7th Marine Recon. Like walking on a minefield. As long as I can keep Billings away from them...

Coop grins and crawls over to the Lance Corporal with the radio. I fire my rounds on the Chigs again, yelling and screaming. I wonder if the Chigs have a day like Christmas. I remember last year. Oh, that was nice. Stuck in an ISSAPC with a comet coming our way. I loved that Christmas. Shane gave us presents…Paul saved our butts. Kinda works all ways, doesn't it?

I wish I was in the freezing ISSAPC. I wish I was sitting in that cockpit with my new socks over my hands and looking at the stars. I wish I was hearing Paul quote Romeo and Juliet. I wish Shane was sitting next to me, smiling. I miss her. I hope she is okay back home.

Cooper and Billings approach me. Their faces are easy to read. Happy as two kids on Christmas day. I look up in the sky and see the Hammerhead Squadron fly over our heads. It brings a smile to my face, surprisingly enough. Even the Saratoga is better than this place.

I was wrong. Way wrong. This is actually the first time in my entire life I do not feel the Christmas spirit. I hand Cooper over his gift and he hugs me. I open his with a smile. Coop is a sucker for antics. I hold up the gameboy and the two games. The Lion King and Super Mario Bros. It is a nice time pass and I thank him. He opens his gift, which is the original best hits of AC/DC. I remembered him telling me about a song he liked by AC/DC. So I pulled a few strings back home and made my brother John run all over Farmingville to get it. I am glad he likes it. Shopping for things for Cooper is surprisingly easy. Like shopping for Neil...

I sip my drink, almost losing my breath and my voice. The same blue stuff from last year. Remind me to use if for after shaving later. I look over to the bar, seeing Ross talk with Azaria. Strangely how we seem to run into each other now. Must be because the war is getting hairier than before. I look out of the porthole, taking a deep breath. I don't know why but I start to think about Shane. Shane and her beautiful long brown hair. Shane and her cute smile. The way she walks and the way she always seem to look out for me. It's strange but despite our 'brother and sister bond' (which is another thing about being in a squad together, you think about everyone like your sister or brother) I still wonder how it is to kiss her. It's been a while since I have kissed a woman. At least three months. Okay, so compared to like 10 months that's nothing.

It's at that moment when I realize the source of my Christmas blues. It fills my heart and mind and I close my eyes to picture Shane's beautiful face. She is back home celebrating Christmas. Far away from this war and me…

I walk past the rest of the Wild Cards, meeting Cooper's eyes briefly before walking out of the Observation Lounge. In San Diego it is almost 22:00. I walk through the ship dressed in my Khaki uniform, which makes me feel stupid. I don't like the khaki uniform. But I do love the Dress Blues. No other service has a uniform quite like that.

I enter the communication room and wait for my turn. Some kid is talking to his parents. How long will the kid talk? I should be calling home as well. But I don't want to. This is my parents' first Christmas without Neil. John is on his own in that one. Besides, I doubt that mom will want to see me.

Finally the kid says his good byes and stands up, leaving the seat to me. I take out my card and charge it. Then I type in the number to Shane's sister Anne and her husband Ed. I know Shane is celebrating Christmas there. I wait a moment, my palms sweaty, until a face show up. She looked likes Shane, only younger. And with blond hair and blue eyes. She was wearing a red dress and her hair was put up. "Hi, my name is N-"

"Shane! The CO of the 58th Squadron is calling ya!" she yelled over her shoulder before turning to me and smile. "I am Amy, Shane's sister. And you are Nathan West. Shane has told me so much about you. How are you?" she asks and moves closer to the small camera.

"I am fine" I smile to her, glad to talk with someone who doesn't call orders or ask for advise.

"You know, you are a lot cuter than Shane told me. In fact-" she starts.

"Amy. Move it" I recognize that voice. Soft yet it makes it point. Amy gives me a long look before standing up and leaving. I see her wave in the background and send me a kiss. Shane told me Amy was a flirt. That was true. But a nice flirt nevertheless. I take a quick breath as Shane sits down. God, she looks beautiful. She is wearing a black dress and has her hair put up. "Nathan" she smiles and looks at me.

I know Shane is still in the Marines but now she is a Flight Instructor in San Diego. We have the same rank now but I think I have a promotion coming up. It looks better if you have a major giving orders rather than a captain. At least if you have a squadron like the Wild Cards. "You look good," I say after a moment, feeling like a schoolboy. Shane is the only woman in the World that makes me feel like that. It is almost annoying except…I like that feeling.

Shane chuckles and smiles that wonderful smile. "Thank you, Mr. West. You look good too. How is Cooper?" she asks me.

"He is fine. He is doing great. With this rate he'll get his own squadron" I joke. But I don't want to talk about Hawkes. I wish I could just sit here and watch her. She smiles.

"That's good to hear…" she pauses and then gives me a serious look. "Not that I don't appreciate it but…why did you just spend up your monthly phone call on calling me?" she nails it as usual. Sometimes I wonder if Shane reads me like a book.

I considered saying it but destroyed the idea as it surfaces. It could be fatal. "I just wanted to Wish you a Merry Christmas" I say and my thumb goes to trace the seam on my khaki trousers. "From all of the 58th. You know...We wish you a merry Christmas"

Shane smiles and in the background I hear some old Christmas songs. I think it is silent night. "That's sweet," she says gently. "Merry Christmas, Nathan"

I cast a look at the watch. Damn, my time is up. "Merry Christmas, Shane" I say and turn off the pictophone. I stand up and walk back to the Observation Lounge where the party was well gone. Coop approaches me, followed by some woman. She looks familiar but I can't place her. "This party is going great!" he says and pats my shoulder. "You remember Stone from Engineering. She was just telling me about what they do down there"

I take another drink, this time downing it easy. Cooper gives me a critical look and I just smile. "It's okay, Coop. Go and enjoy yourself. Don't do anything I would do" he wave him off before turning to look out the porthole. The stars look amazing. You'd think I'd be used to them by now but they just...take my breath away, It is like God is reaching out and touching the sky. The stars seem even brighter than usual. I feel someone coming up behind me but I don't move.

"Nice night, isn't it" I hear Ross say. He must have managed to get away from the Gunny.

"Yes sir. It looks better than usual" I reply.

"Your promotion is coming up. Should be finished with the papers before New Year," he says, but he isn't here to talk about that. I guess that Ross sees Hawkes and me like the only link to McQueen onboard this ship. That's okay with me...as long as it doesn't mean I have to listen to him sing the blues.

"Thank you, sir" I say, rather emotionless.

"It's strange without them here, isn't it?" he says after a moment.

I look at him before nodding. "Yes. It is strange" my voice is a low whisper. God, I miss them all. McQueen, Shane, Paul, Phousse...Kelly and Neil. Especially Shane, Paul, McQueen, Phousse and Neil.

Ross smiles a bit and walks away, the silence between us getting strange. I stand there for a while until I hear Cooper coming up behind me. "Nath...you better get to the Communication Room"

I turn and look at him quizzically. He has that look in his eyes, like a cat. "Why?"

Hawkes just smiles. "Let me say you don't wanna miss this"

"Nathan?" Shane asks as I sit down in front of the pictaphone. "I..."

"Just wanted to wish me a merry Christmas?" I say, mercifully cutting her off. I have an idea what she wanted to say,

"Yeah..." she smiles and I see her reach out. I think she is touching the screen. "I'll be waiting for you when you get home"

I smile, a strange feeling creeping through me. "You will?" I ask, my smile growing wider. "Does this mean-"

"That I love you?" she says and chuckles. "Yes, Nathan West. I love you"

"I love you too, Shane" I feel someone press my shoulder. Cooper bends his head down to look at the phone and enters the frame so that Shane can see him.

"Heeeeey" he says in a passable imitation of Paul. "You two love birds having a good time?"

I take that as a sign to cut off. "Bye, Shane. And Merry Christmas"

"Semper fi, Nathan" she replies and once again the screen goes blank.

Cooper looks at me for a while before smiling. "You wanna hit the sack?" he asks me.

I look up at him. "As a matter of fact, Hawkes. I suddenly got a craving for some eggnog" I stand up and walk out of the hatch, while whistling on 'White Christmas'.

To everyone from a SAABer:
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

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