"Shared Passions"

Author: Haruo Chikamori

E-mail: hhchikamori

Rating: M

Classification: Animal/Maegyn;

Spoilers: N/A

Summary: Maegyn has seen Animal before when she was a nugget in VF-41 but he left before they could get acquainted, but now he was back in the Black Aces, a senior officer, a lieutenant commander in the zone for O-5. The attraction was still there…will they or won't they take advantage of the situation.

DISCLAIMER: The characters Harm Rabb, Jr., Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie, Meg Austin, AJ Chegwidden, Bud Roberts, Harriet Sims-Roberts et al. belong (in concept if not name) to CBS/Bellisarius. Animal and all OC characters are the property of Heather and Hugo Chikamori. No profit is being made from this story, nor is any infringement intended.

NAS Oceana, May 25th, 1992

"Hey, Irish! I hear we're getting a new department head…e's a MiG Killer, eh…"

"Really?" Lieutenant Maegyn "Irish" O'Bannon, looked back at Lieutenant Philippe "Frenchie" Leblanc; "So…you know who's getting piped aboard?"

"Mais, I really don't know…" LT Leblanc uttered, his Cajun accent coming through clearly though he had spent four years in the Navy. "It all a de'pouille to me…"

"A what?" Half the time, when Leblanc went into his deep swamp Creole, Maegyn couldn't understand half of what he was going on about. But then again, Leblanc had just transferred into the Black Aces and he probably didn't have a clue as to who was who just yet. He had flown a couple of training missions with their turnaround training cycle, where those who had been in staff positions were shuffled into get their operational deployments so that they could go onto greater things.

"Confusing as shit…" Leblanc replied. "New guy come in…he toss things 'round…mebbe go make new confusing rules…we get flying hours cut…who knows…"

Maegyn rolled her eyes. Leblanc was always going on about something. "Philippe, you're probably exaggerating things, y'know…" she grinned at him. Maybe we should go talk to ops. Maybe they might know when the new guy's coming on board."

"I hear he's a hinge…" Leblanc held forth. "got promoted two years go…maybe get select for deep-select as O-5. This guy, he's an up n'comer…mebbe even flag rank down the road."

"C'mon, let's go see if anyone can give us anything other than conjecture." Maegyn stated. She was curious as to who was transferring in to the squadron.

A small restaurant in Belleville, PA, May 25th, 1992

"I'm going back to school. Law…" Harm stated. He'd finally managed to get his last physical therapy session and had managed to put away the cane. "Georgetown, I start in September, reserved my commission. Gonna be hard to get into the rhythm of studying."

"Good to hear, Harm." Keeter replied as he looked over at his friends. Animal sat in the other seat, drinking a soda, nodding his own assent.

"You've come through a lot, Harm. Good to see you get up and fight." Animal stated firmly. The two younger officers sat there taking long pulls at their beers. Animal being five years older was senior to them - A lieutenant commander to their lieutenant rank; but they were in civilian clothes.

Harm had just come through a long and arduous physical rehabilitation after a ramp strike that had killed his RIO. He'd had his wings yanked and was given the choice to either separate or transfer into the staff corps due to medical reasons. It had taken a long period of soul-searching and Harm had realized that he'd wanted a Navy career regardless of the absence of flying. And Grandma Sarah had given him the opportunity to take the opportunity to do some soul-searching without being pressured. And his best friends had given him the time and the space to do so without the agony of seeing them as it hurt to see them still able to fly. And when Harm was ready to do so, he made the overtures of inviting them out to Belleville to come see him.

Animal was glad that Harm had made a decision to do something with the rest of his Navy career. Whatever had happened in that ramp strike had cut him deeply. Harm was a broken man when he found out that his RIO hadn't survived the accident and the subsequent investigation and court proceedings had, if not ended his career, found him medically responsible for the accident that had occurred. That was why Harm had retreated into himself and went to his Grandma Sarah's home to recover and regain focus. "You'll be able to…you're diligent with your studies and you're able to do what you need to do. You've shown that in RAG. Apply it to your studies and you'll ace it." Animal grinned at his former wingman, raising a fist to his buddy, he fist-bumped it against Harm's raised fist.

"Howlers!" they both exclaimed.

"Stop it, you two…you're making me teary-eyed…" Keeter said sarcastically. Keeter was always uncomfortable around emotion - also the fact that he flew for a different squadron.

"So, where are you going now?" Harm said, noting that Animal had just come back from a deployment off the Seahawk with the Howlers and considering Animal had been with the Howlers for two years, he was slated to be shipped off to another squadron.

"Back to my home…the VF-41 Black Aces." Animal grinned at Harm. "They're on a turnaround training cycle and I'm going to have to apply boots to asses to get them in ready shape for the deployment…they're scheduled in the Med in Spring '93…so, we got some serious training that we have to do over the next six months to ensure they're ops capable." He turned to Keeter, "So what about you, turkey?"

"The name's Keeter…" Keeter grumbled good-naturedly, the older man had always called him something off-color… "Well…I'm with the Cougars, and we're slated to be covering your asses in the Med while you're playing in the desert. We deploy in two weeks."

Animal snorted with laughter. "Well, good luck, you'll need it. You'll be covering a lot of CAP while you're out there. Let's just say the Russians don't like it too much. They get a bit nervous when we start dropping MiGs into the sand."

"Yeah, Animal, I can really feel the love…" Keeter said sarcastically.

"Yeah, I'm just glad it ain't me. I get to stay home and enjoy some home-cooking state-side for a change." Animal snickered, bursting into laughter as he contemplated Keeter's aggrieved face. He turned to Harm and said. "So, what are you going to be studying in first year Law?"

"Oh, just the usual: civil procedure, contracts, constitutional law, criminal procedure, property and torts." Harm replied. "In second year you start to specialize, military law and maritime law…" he shrugged his shoulders, "but I'm going to just try to get through my first year before I even consider figuring out what I'm going to major in." Harm actually felt like he was going to look forward to studying law.

The nice thing about Belleville was that it was a sleepy little farm community that enjoyed its peaceful atmosphere and welcomed those who stopped by who knew a resident there. The three were well-known because of their connection to Grandma Sarah who was a well-known and loved resident of Belleville, and Harm was welcomed there every time he went.

NAS Oceana, May 27, 1992 0700hrs.

A Chevrolet Camaro Iroc-Z, dark metallic blue, made its way onto the base with the envious looks of the Marine gate guards following its movement along the parking lot, till it came to a stop in a space by the parking lot of the VF-41 Black Aces. The eyes of the officer and enlisted squadron members who were at the base at that early time, noticed the unfamiliar vehicle and wondered who that could be; when the occupant of the vehicle opened the door, and a brightly polished oxford corfam shoe impacted the pavement. Looking higher up they noticed a khaki clad calf and eventually, the exiting form of a peanut butters clad Asian-American naval officer whose eyes gazed at the sign, nodded perfunctorily, slipped on his RayBan aviator tear-drop sunglasses and shut the door of his Iroc-Z. Two engaging beeps of his car alarm later, the khaki-clad officer strode up to the office door, a grin plastered to his face when most of the enlisted realized that he had gold oak-leaves on his collars and snapped to attention as he stepped into the office. Pulling off his sunglasses and hanging them off the pocket of his khakis…he grinned at the rest of the officers in the office. "Well…glad to be back here…" he uttered, extending his hand to the first officer in the line, "Hi, Lieutenant Commander Toshio Nakamura, callsign Animal." He grinned.

Looking over his ribbon rack, the rest of the officers in the crowd saw a Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon with a second award star and a V signifying valor. The second ribbon was one that was awarded for an incident in the Persian Gulf where an Iraqi speedboat loaded with armed gunmen were headed towards an A-6 crew that had gone down in the water. Animal had strafed the speedboat even though a shoulder launched SAM was fired at him and he was at bingo fuel. He had made it back to the boat on vapor and trapped a third wire. He'd been awarded the Air Medal three times with a 3 strike number. The officers' eyes widened as they went down his ribbon rack seeing a Navy Commendation and several unit citations and medals. There was also a National Defense Service Medal with a bronze star as well as the customary Gulf War medals including the rarely worn Saudi Arabia Liberation of Kuwait as Animal had been there at the outset of the war flying missions in that short two month period in which the medal had been awarded. He had served three deployments already and had the two bronze stars to show for it on his sea service ribbon. And the last two ribbons denoted that he was both an expert with the M-16A2 and the M9 Beretta. This was not a REMF as far as they were concerned – he had an extensive been there done that…rack.

Commander Brett "House" Maxwell, VF-41 CO stepped forward from the welcoming committee and shook Animal's hand. "Good to see you back. Animal."

"Thanks a bunch, sir. I'm glad to be back. Howlers were a great bunch of guys, but it's not home."

"C'mon into my office; that way the guys don't have their eyes bugging out their skulls inspecting your ribbon rack to see if you're legit. We can talk there." House replied, gesturing to another commander standing beside him. "This is Commander Laurent Mad Dog Thibodeaux; he's the XO. He's one of two Cajuns in this squadron. The other's Lieutenant Philippe "Frenchie" Leblanc. Mad Dog here's the more coherent of the two. Frenchie, half the time we can't understand what the fuck he's yammering on about."

"So how many of the guys have been rotated out? House?" Animal asked. "When I was with the squadron you were the XO. And Mad Dog was a department head of maintenance."

House shook his head. "A lot, Animal. Three-quarters of the guys are new here, that's why we needed you to come in as a department head in ops and help kick some ass so that we're ready to deploy first quarter of 93. But not all the people are new. You probably remember Irish. She transferred in as a JG before you headed off to the Howlers because you couldn't keep your feet dry. She's now one of the senior lieutenants, a hot stick…and not too bad on the eyes either…" House said quietly. "I think she remembers you…you were a Lieutenant when you went off to play in the sandbox." Animal chuckled wryly. The sandbox was a derogatory nickname for Saudi Arabia.

"Yeah, you know me…I prefer the smell of JP and seawater…that's all the perfume I wanna smell." Animal replied jocularly. "So, what are you going to have me do in terms of ops. Make sure the cones know how to fly their aircraft and scream at the wrenches?"

Mad Dog chuckled. "Naw, Animal, eh. I do the screaming at the wrenches."

"Yeah, OK, Mad Dog, you're senior than me…so you'd have more effect…sir." Animal added. "So how much flying are we doing?"

"Oh, lots. We're going to be detached to Fallon for a two week ACM refresher course so that we're all happy little warriors looking to knock heads when we head out. And we'll get refreshers all the way through this next six months just so that the knowledge doesn't fade away. We'll also be doing some range evolutions where we can practice what we learned at Fallon."

The little introductory meeting lasted for a good solid hour…and when Animal, Mad Dog and House were done, they got up, stretched, and headed for a tour around the VF-41 facilities to give Animal an idea of what sort of things were available: hangars, operational planning section, the flight gear house, the simulators, everything that was necessary to run a squadron and last but not least, the flight-line.

Lieutenant Maegyn O'Bannon, just back from a training sortie, caught sight of House and Mad Dog and an Asian officer in khakis walking out to the flight line. "SIR!" she called out.

"Lieutenant." House replied. "I'm sure you remember our newest ops department head, Lieutenant Commander Toshio Nakamura. He was a lieutenant when you rotated in to the squadron as a JG."

Maegyn's green eyes brightened and she smiled widely and spoke with a hint of a Boston accent. "I do, sir. Welcome back to the Black Aces, Lieutenant Commander Nakamura." But then her smile faded slightly. "However, I may not be on the deployment with you in 1993, sir. My detailer called me and told me that he had a staff position to be filled in six months. I've put in for it, because I need it for my O-4, sir. Darn…" she snapped her fingers. "Just my luck, you come back and I have to leave. Can we catch up later, sir?"

"Of course, Lieutenant O'Bannon." Animal grinned. He'd always liked the young lieutenant JG that he'd met before he left to head for the Howlers. "I'll look forward to it." House and Mad Dog were looking at each other trying not to be obtrusive.

"Two ships passing in the night, aren't we, sir." LT O'Bannon said. "I join, you leave, you join the squadron, I leave…" she let loose a melodramatic sigh. "Looking forward to talking to you later, sir. Talk to you soon, sir. I gotta get this bag off, it's getting uncomfortable." She braced to attention, while holding her flight helmet bag.

"Carry on, Lieutenant."

House and Mad Dog looked at each other then at Animal. "I'm not even going to speculate what was going on…" House said. "I didn't hear it…nope…not one bit…" Mad Dog had his fingers in his ears.

"Is she working with me in ops?" Animal asked. House and Mad Dog paled.