Even Kittens have Claws

Part Two -- by Becky Ratliff

See Disclaimer Information in Part One

Hawkes still wasn’t convinced about the necessity of going to medbay with a sore hand, but he wasn’t about to set Shane off again. Not after this morning. Crap. He hadn’t thought about it since before the fight...he wondered if she was still mad at him.

Vansen and McQueen. It was so hard to believe...but then, looking back, maybe not. A lot of things started making sense. They way they’d acted after Marged, for one thing...the look in their eyes had scared him for a long time. And it had only got better when they were together. He’d thought it was just a matter of having been through things together, godawful things, that no one else could understand. But now he knew the truth.

At first he was a little mad they hadn’t told him. But then he thought, that was stupid. If you had to keep a secret, you didn’t go telling people. NO-body. He understood THAT. He hadn’t told anyone except McQueen about that monitor...just thinking about it now still scared him. It had been self-defense...but he was sure that wouldn’t matter. It wasn’t like Shane and the Colonel had killed anybody...but still....

He decided that the trouble they could get in was what was bothering him the worst...but McQueen had been a survivor for a long time, he wasn’t likely to do anything to get caught. Shane had proven she could keep a secret as well. So, when McQueen went back on active duty, Cooper would just have to trust that they’d be careful.

Sickbay was crammed. He saw the new guy from the 83rd in the corridor, the one who’d been hurt--he had burns and he was waiting in the corridor for the doctors to get to him. He looked like he was pretty well out of it. His wingman, also a newbie, was staying with him, his face was gray and drawn with worry. Coop stopped for a while. “How’s he doing?”

“I don’t know. They just left him out here. There’s no beds in there...there was a bunch of people in that bay when it was hit. Man, it looks like hamburger in there--but the doctor said most of them are gonna live. The emergency doors closed in time.” Cooper saw his tags, he was Lieutenant Sam Smith.

“That’s good! It must not have hit right where they were.”

“Billy has got to...it wasn’t his fault what happened, it was mine. I should’ve been watching better, I should’ve been there!”

Coop shook his head. “No way, I saw the whole thing, remember? You didn’t have time to do anything before they were all over both of you. Anyway, he doesn’t look too bad.”

“Not for IVs like us, no--but he’s an NB!”

Coop didn’t tell the kid he hadn’t noticed who was what until just now. “Oh, yeah, that’s just burn gel, it looks like that. He’s breathing okay. When you get a bad burn, that’s what they worry about first. And if he’s a natural-born, that’s lucky in a way. They have lots more kinds of medicine they can use on them. Did you guys go through basic together?”

“Yeah, at Cherry Point.”

“We were at Loxley. What are you doing in the Marines?”

“It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t take it. I was going to buy a battery off of these guys, I didn’t know they stole it out of a car. But they saw the cops and ran off, I got caught with the battery. I think the judge kind of believed me. She said she thought I could make it in the service, so she gave me the choice between enlisting and jail.”

Coop nodded. “I got in a fight with some guys and busted the windshield of a cop car. The other guys started it.”

“Billy volunteered, he wasn’t in any trouble with the law.”

“One thing, it isn’t how you get in, it’s what you do after you get here...and you two did okay for yourselves out there today.”

“Yeah, if you don’t count getting shot up,” Sam said. He was trying to sound tough and sarcastic, but he couldn’t quite pull it off looking at his friend.

“You came back,” Hawkes pointed out.

Christy Ames came out. Coop was glad that she and the survivors of her outfit, Gloria Fallon and Mark Miller, had been assigned to the Sara. Christy was a lot of fun to be around. “Hi, Coop. I didn’t know you knew Billy. But only one of you can stay here with him at a time, otherwise we’ll have too many people out here when everybody else starts thinking all their friends can stay too.”

Hawkes said, “Major Vansen sent me down here to get my hand looked at, but we didn’t know you were so busy. I can come back later.” He sounded hopeful.

“I’ll look at it in a minute.” Christy examined Billy, and gave Sam a big smile. “He’s doing fine. He's asleep because of the pain medicine, but he’ll be okay in a couple of weeks. You ought to get back to your squadron and tell them. Then get some rest. He won’t know you’re here today. Come back tomorrow when he’s awake and needs the company.”

“Well...okay, I guess.”

“Check back around afternoon watch, he should start waking up by then.”

“Will anybody tell us if...if he needs us?”

“Yeah, but if I know your C.O., he’ll keep checking anyway.”

Sam reluctantly allowed himself to be talked into leaving. Christy asked, “Cooper, what was that about your hand?”

“Nothing, really. I hurt it somehow in a high-g turn, I guess I must have hit it on something. But you're swamped, I can come back."

She looked both ways and answered softly, “No, it’s better to take care of it now. I’ll make sure you see Dr. O’Leary instead of one of the other doctors. Some of them you don’t want to go to. Just Dr. O’Leary and Dr. Walker.”

“Tell me about it. Some doctor got me hooked on drugs once.”

“You’re lucky they didn’t poison you. Commander Holsinger used to warn me about some of those civilian doctors but I never--just wait here, act like you’re with Billy if anyone comes along.”

Cooper shrugged and held up the bulkhead for a while. Billy wasn’t much company, as Christy had said he was sound asleep. The guy on the next gurney kept mumbling something about “Die Chiggy.” He could relate to that.

About ten mikes later a woman poked her head out the hatch. “Hawkes? Busted up your hand in a g-snap?”

“Yes, ma’am. Dr. O’Leary?”

“That’s right.” She was an older woman, Hawkes would have guessed early fifties, with eyes the color and brilliance of emeralds. She was tired, and some unruly wisps of salt-and-pepper hair escaped a bun on top of her head.

“Come on in, this won’t take half a mike.” She sat him down in front of a scanner. “Just lay your hand on the plate...hmmm. Nothing’s broken. Some soft tissue damage though. What you’d commonly call a sprain. Ace bandage and a cold pack, comin’ up.” She expertly wrapped his hand, swiped a wand across his tags to get his ID and ordered “light duty left hand, next exam 3 days”.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” She grinned.

“No, ma’am. Ma’am?”

“What is it, son?”

“When do you think Lt. Ames will be getting off duty?”

She laughed. “Tomorrow! Look at this!” Her hand swept the corridor outside. “Haven’t had ‘em backed up like this since we pulled the survivors off Demios. We’re all going to be working overtime down here tonight, that’s for sure.”

Hawkes wasn’t sure if she was going to pat him on the head, or draft him and put him to work as an orderly. Either way, he decided that a strategic retreat was the wisest course. He excused himself and, followed by Dr. O’Leary’s good natured laughter, he made a beeline for the nearest lift.


Vansen finished filling out the reports on the mission and got up from her chair, stretched until the kink in her back popped, and sighed with relief. Nothing like one giant furball after another, followed by a whole damn watch of filling out forms! Nathan and Vanessa had already left, finding something to do to wind down while they were off duty. She got her diary out of her locker.

It was lucky Coop had been the one to find it. If she’d left it lying around and some stranger had happened to be in here...for instance, the guy who was supposed to fix the hatch...God, how could she have been so stupid! Vanessa had promised to fix the problem, and ten minutes later had given her a chip, told her to slot it up and run the program on it. She did so now.

After that, her notebook always opened up to her bank account. To get to the diary, she had to type in a password. Security could always be broken, but at least there wouldn’t be any more accidents like this morning!

For a moment, she almost got rid of the diary entirely. But then she thought, there was no proof of any actual wrongdoing in there. It was all dated after Ty had left for Earth. And after that close call, she certainly would not write down anything incriminating. As for a scandal, well...anyone who went to the trouble to find and break into her diary would have to already suspect there was something in there worth reading.

She laughed and flopped back on her rack, looked at her pictures on the bulkhead. Nothing suspicious there--the only picture she had of Ty was one taken with the whole squadron, and they hadn’t even been standing next to one another.

Her eyes traveled to the next picture, of herself and her sisters at Anne’s wedding. What would they think of all this? Anne would be a little scandalized, a LOT amused....serious, hardworking, (boring) old Shane, sneaking around sleeping with someone. Imagine that! Lauren, on the other hand, would think it was all terribly romantic, like the situations the heroines of the fantasy novels she read always seemed to get into. Sometimes Shane thought Lauren was waiting for her hero to come riding up on his white horse and sweep her away from UCLA.

The last picture was of her parents. She had obtained that one from the Marine Corps after enlisting, and sent copies of it to Anne and Lauren. Like nearly all their belongings, they had lost every original family picture they’d ever had in the foster home shuffle. Shane had her dad’s pool cue, Anne had her mother’s wedding ring and Lauren had the family Bible. One thing for each of them...to show for a lifetime. Shane knew what her mother would have said about that. Their children were their legacy.

She wondered what her parents would think about her and Ty. They had met in the Corps, and her father had transferred out of her mother’s squadron before they got married. Maybe they had gone through the same thing before that. Not for the first time, she wished she could sit down with her parents over a cup of coffee and talk things over. One thing was sure, they would understand about love that lasted a lifetime....

She heard the hatch, recognized the sound of McQueen’s step and smiled. “I’m back here.”

“That’s what Damphousse told me, when you weren’t at Tun’s with everyone else.”

“Just filed the reports a minute ago,” she said. “OH, God, I don’t need too many more days like today. Where were you when we got hit?”

“In a meeting with the Commodore and a couple of other people, let me tell you we really felt it, too. But there wasn’t any damage outside the docking bay itself,” he hastened to assure her.

“Ty, there’s something you need to know. Cooper found my diary. He knows about us.”

“What was Cooper doing with your diary?”

She shook her head. “Just being Coop, he didn’t mean any harm. It was my fault.”

“The hell it was, he knows better than that. So what happened? Have we got a problem?”

“I...don’t think so,” she said cautiously. “He was worried we’d land in the brig.”

“That’s reasonable,” McQueen said. “If we were serving under anyone other than Commodore Ross, I’d say it was even likely.”

“Well, when general quarters sounded, the first thing out of his mouth was to swear to God he wouldn’t let anyone find out from him.”

“I believe him, Shane. Did you know that Nathan’s been onto us from the start?”

She nodded. “We never talked about it, but...I never thought I was pulling anything over on him. What, did he say something to you?”

“No...not exactly. After we got back from Vesta, he just...sounded things out to make sure there wasn’t a problem.”

Shane laughed. “You mean he was asking your intentions?”

“Something like that, I guess,” he replied. “He was concerned about both of us.”

“Oh, God.” She rolled her eyes towards the ceiling, her trademark why-me expression.

“We knew we couldn’t keep this a secret from the ‘Cards for very long,” McQueen said reasonably.

“Ty, what are we going to do when this mess with your military status gets straightened out? We’ll have our newbies by then, it won’t be just the five of us anymore.”

“A lot of cold showers for the duration, Shane, you know that as well as I do. We’re not going to risk ruining both our careers, or worse, over a roll in the hay.”

She gave him that minxy look of hers, the one that could melt a hole clear through the bulkhead. “You might have to keep your hatch locked to make that one stick. And you’d better put a chair up against it while you’re at it, because I think I know where there’s a master key for that corridor....”

He laughed and reached across the distance between the two bunks to catch her hand. “I never said it was going to be easy.”

“A lot of things fall under the category of ‘not easy’, Ty. Staying away from you is going to be damn near impossible.” She drew his hand to her lips.

“Easier than staying away from you,” he told her.

“Maybe we should save up while we aren’t breaking any regulations,” she said.

“Give me ten mikes. I won’t have my hatch locked.”

Go to Part Three

Go back to Fanfic