Title: Midnight on the Saratoga
Characters: The Wild Cards, ect...
Notes: I wasn't going to post this one here on FFN... and then I changed my mind and decided to do it anyway, even if the fic went nowhere. (Be careful when watching DVD's... plotbunnies can come from the most interesting places...)
Disclaimer: I am not Glen Morgan, nor his compatriot, nor Fox Studios, nor Hard Eight Productions. Am happily borrowing.
It had been a week, and all she'd done was listen to him talk, stare at the ceiling of the medical bay, and be otherwise unresponsive. The doctors had told him not to expect much at first, that the first couple of weeks were usually the hardest. That talking to her helped speed orientation along, even if she didn't understand him completely yet.
So far... nothing. Not a peep. No vocalizations other than when her gestation tank had broken open and she'd lain there screaming amid the glass shards and the fluid.
They'd said even that was normal. As if there was some kind of comparison to being born and crying. Maybe there was... He would have given anything for something abnormal from her. A hand on his shoulder made him jump and Cooper turned to find Vansen standing there. "What?"
"Go. Take a break," Shane urged him.
"But..." He tried to protest, but the hard expression in Shane's eyes told him to just do what she said. "Right. Been telling her stories."
Shane nodded and sat down in the chair he'd vacated. "Go on. I'll keep her company. Go eat. Catch a nap."
Cooper looked again at the woman laying on the bed, still unmoving other than an occasional blinking of the eyes. It was still hard to believe that was his sister laying there, silent and motionless. "Call me if something changes."
Shane nodded again and watched him go, then leaned closer to the medical bed and inspected the woman-child for herself. Amid the chaos on the MacArthur, there had been so much to absorb, and Hawkes had been spending all his time in here with her, clearly worried. "Kate, let me tell you how I met your big brother. It was a sunny day, our first day of basic, and he showed up late. In handcuffs..."
Suddenly, Kate's hand reached for hers, and Kate blinked up at her. "Basic?"
Shane froze, not certain what to make of the really sudden inquisitiveness, or the innocence she saw reflected in those eyes. Had she ever been that innocent? It felt like a lifetime ago. "Um... Basic training."
"Oh. What was basic training like?"
Shane bit her lip. She knew she should have gone to get Cooper, but if she left Kate alone... "You want me to tell you a story?"
Kate nodded. "Yes. Without the alphabet song."
"All right..." And as Shane began to tell the woman-child about what basic training was, she had to wonder why Coop would sing the alphabet song to her repeatedly. It... didn't exactly sound like his style.
He'd slept for hours in his bunk. When he awoke, it was way past revely... and Wang was watching him from the table in the middle of their quarters. "What?"
"Nothing. Shane said to let you sleep. McQueen agreed, and told me to stay."
Cooper slowly sat up, frowning. "What time is it?"
"About 1500 hours, give or take a few minutes." Wang watched him stand and start to move toward the door. "Coop?"
"Join me for lunch?"
"It's past lunch."
"Haven't eaten yet," Paul told him as he stood up. "And it wasn't a request."
"But I..." The protest, such as it was, died on his lips at Paul Wang's glare. "Right."
Paul followed him out the door, giving an internal sigh of relief. "She'll be fine. Phoose is with her now."
Vanessa Damphoose wasn't used to being so inactive. They were in the middle of a war, war meant action. Sitting around in a medical area wasn't exactly her idea of action, but no one was shooting at her, so maybe it wasn't so bad. She'd taken over the bedside vigil from Shane earlier in the morning, and so far, all Kate had done was sleep. She jumped slightly when Kate rolled onto her side and blinked to find someone different.
"Where did she go?"
Not having expected that, Vanessa could only stare at her. Then she found her voice. "Shane had some things to do. She'll be back."
"Oh. Will you tell stories? She told stories."
Still uncertain what to make of the girl, Vanessa smiled. "All right..."
A Week Ago...
The hold area of the MacArthur was silent as he made his way to the compartment where the manifest said his sister was. He almost didn't want to open the door, but had to see this through... to admit to himself what he'd done in saving everyone else on board.
Just as he was about to open the door, he heard an indefinable wail from inside. Intermittent, almost like an alarm siren, only more unsettling. He froze, hesitating for a long moment. What could make a sound like that? Were there alarms inside set to activate when the tanks went offline?
"You going to open it or not?" Colonel McQueen asked from behind him suddenly. Cooper didn't even glance back at him.
"Something isn't right," he said. "Power was cut off, but there's a noise like an alarm sounding in there." A really high pitched, very unsettling alarm.
Together, they opened the door, cautious and on guard for what might sound like an alarm through a steel door could have been anything. Upon opening the door, the sound became more distinct. It wasn't an alarm, but rather a voice, screaming in sheer, unadulterated, mindless terror.
Cooper took a moment to look over his shoulder at McQueen in question, and then they both entered the room to find out who was screaming where there should have been only silence. Silence of the dead. Of the unborn.
It took a few minutes, searching through rows of upright holding tanks, but the source of the screaming soon became apparent: a holding tank's locks had failed somehow and it was laying in it's side. The suspension fluid had leaked out, and there, laying amid broken shards and fluid was a newly-born InVitro woman-child, screaming incoherently.
Cooper froze at the sight, reading the numbers on the toppled base of the tank, and knew without a doubt who she was. "Kate."
McQueen sprang into action, pulling the woman-child up out of the mess and lifting pieces of broken tank off of her. "Hawkes!"
Cooper needed no further prompting. Without another word, he sprang into action, helping the Colonel move her out of the hold and into a bunk. Eventually, she stopped screaming.
Nathan West stared at the woman laying on the bunk, shivering under the covers. An hour ago, she'd been screaming incoherently. Now, a harried hour later, she was less vocal, cleaned up as best they could manage under these circumstances, and bandaged where needed. And Coop had stationed himself at her bedside like some kind of very silent sentry.
A hand on his shoulder made Nathan jump, startled as he turned to find McQueen, who beckoned him with his head to follow. Nodding, he followed his CO into the corridor.
"We are going to inspect the rest of the tanks," McQueen told him shortly, glancing at Wang, who had also joined them. "See if any other locks failed on them."
"Locks?" Wang asked, and Nathan was glad he'd voiced it. This whole situation was just confusing.
"The ones that hold the tanks to the deck," McQueen answered succinctly as he led them to the hold.
They found two other tanks which had toppled, but no one else alive, and looking around, Nathan found his malice toward InVitroes fading somewhat. The more he inspected the tanks in the darkened hold and looked into dead, innocent faces, the more he became convinced that the woman-child currently laying in Cooper's bunk had been lucky. Very, very lucky.
When Cooper walked into Sickbay that evening, he found Shane reading a weapons manual aloud to Kate, who was watching her attentively. The change was so startling, he couldn't help but stand there and stare, mouth agape.
"Shane?" Kate asked, unknowingly sending him into an even deeper state of shock.
Shane glanced at her over the manual. "Hmmm?"
She pointed at him. "He's... I don't know. Something."
Shane slowly turned to find Cooper staring at them, appearing more stunning than she'd ever seen anybody. Understanding instantly, Shane stood up and led him the several steps to Kate's bedside, guided him to a chair. "The word is shocked, Kate."
Cooper stared at Kate some more. Shocked wasn't the word for it. "Shane?"
"A watched and annoyed pot never boils, Coop," Shane told him carefully after pulling up another chair. "She started reacting after I sent you to bed."
Kate was confused when he turned and stared hard at Shane. "And no one told me?!"
Shane was sorely tempted to roll her eyes in frustration, but knew that would just infuriate him even more. "McQueen ordered us to keep you occupied and let you sleep when you didn't wake up for revile this morning."
Kate suddenly giggled, distracting him from his furor. "I'd like to meet him."
Shane smiled at her gently. "You did. A week ago."
"Not that you'd remember that, really. But you did."
Kate frowned and shifted her attention back to Cooper. "Why did you show up for Basic training in handcuffs? And what are handcuffs?"
Cooper blinked at her, sat back, and stared hard at Shane. "Handcuffs are a sort of restraint for the hands that go around the wrists. Shane?"
Shane smirked at him slightly. "You said to tell stories. I'd like to know why, too."
Cooper took a deep breath. It did very little to settle his nerves. "Because I was sentenced for a crime actually committed against me and I was angry." At a frown from both women, he sighed again. In for a penny, in for a mortar. "See, I for a job at a construction site, and after hours some natural-borns tried to have me hanged for the crime of being an InVitro."
"I don't understand," Kate said as Shane winced. "Why is it a crime to be what we are?"
Cooper leaned closer to her. "It's not, Kate. Long as you live, remember that. I was in handcuffs because I fought back and then the authorities showed up... and I don't know how, exactly, but they thought I was the attacker instead of the attacked. The next day, I was sentenced to the Corps, and that's why I showed up late for Basic in handcuffs."
Shane stared at him, some things about his behavior falling into place. It had taken a death of one of their squad on Mars for him to begin to care... and this explained so much.