Giving You the Cold Shoulder

Japan was cold.

Granted, she was on the northern tip of Hokkaido. Granted, it was winter. Granted, the Sea of Okhotsk was covered with ice floes at this time of year. But still...it was cold.

"Your coffee, lieutenant."

"I asked for tea."

"We're out of tea. Like it or lump it."

Like she'd reflected on, it was cold. And there weren't any biscuits or tea either.

Eva McKenna at least had the restraint not to complain, the fact there wasn't really anyone to complain to notwithstanding. The Allies...heck, the world had had it tough over the last few years, and even if she was stuck on the tip of nowhere, there were thousands...no, millions of people who had it worse. People starving in Europe as the effects of war were amplified by the December weather. The war-weary Allies, trying to do what they could to deal with not one but two defeated superpowers, both of which resented the occupation of capitalist dogs/foreign barbarians. Stationed outside Wakkanai, Eva knew that she was in the least hospitable area of Japan right now, but even so, managed to keep her mouth shut. Whether it be wisecracks from the base's staff about the lack of short-skirts (which the weather forbid) or the locals comments about the golden-haired "Kiyohime," Lieutenant McKenna managed to keep a straight back, shirt in and deal with the lack of British tea.

And no, green tea wasn't real tea as far as she was concerned.

Standing at the airstrip on the edge of the base (and by virtue of location, Hokkaido's northern coast), Eva took a sip of the coffee, deriving some warmth from the beverage if nothing else. The base's location made it ideal to provide a lynchpin of joint administration of both Hokkaido and eastern Russia, but by virtue of being in the Pacific, it was mainly a US-run operation. Which meant that the coffee no doubt came from there as well. If she wasn't awaiting the arrival of a new commander, Eva might have gone into the airbase and made something somewhat passable, but for now, she was stuck with what the base staff could provide.

Wish we had some French here...

Enemies a few centuries ago had become Allies, and not only because of one country's culinary skills. Kind of like the situation in Japan-at least Tatsu was urging restraint in his homeland, accepting the Empire's defeat with honour. Not that his people seemed all too keen on the idea, but still, at least FutureTech had seen to that with the new cryo legionnaire program. If the weather wasn't keeping the locals down, cryo-cannons would.

Japan's cold. The USSR's cold. And with everything from cryo-prisons to cryo-cannons, I think we're becoming cold as well...

And in the lonely nights that being stationed here brought, surrounded by men who were willing to warm up in as many ways as possible, Eva felt cold in other ways as well. The type of coldness that only came from loneliness, from an obscure longing for the days of conflict. Granted, those days were horrible, but at least she was around people she could confide in. One in particular...

"Echo-Six calling White Base, come in White Base."

"White Base here, Lieutenant McKenna receiving."

"Have eyes on you White Base. Making approach."

Eva glanced through the snowy air at the CH-47 making its way through the snowflakes. Short, crisp and formal-exactly how she should have remained back in the conflict, she reflected bitterly. How she had to for as long as she was in the British Army. How she had to stop being "Kiyohime...the woman of Japanese folklore who turned into a serpent out of unrequited love. As much as Eva resented being called a "golden haired demon," she knew that when it boiled down to it, the people weren't too far from the truth. Not that she was going to turn into a serpent anytime soon, but still...the feelings of hurt gnawing away at her...feelings she knew she shouldn't harbour in the first place, but...but...


Eva blinked. Then blinked again. And again. And even with all the snow out of her eyes, she blinked a fourth time. Yes, she knew White Base was awaiting a new commander. Yes, she knew that commander was an honoured veteran. But not in a month of very cold Sundays did she expect that commander to be the same one she'd served with in the conflict. The same one that had, for lack of a better term, given her the cold shoulder...

"Leave you guys to it."

The Chinook was obviously dropping off, with Commander Carson McKay heading out the ramp alone. Whether it was Navy/Marines not wanting to be around "army dogs" or simply that the Forrestal had better heating (not that she'd be surprised) she didn't know, but either way, she and Carson were left at the helipad. No pomp, no ceremony, just two COs at a lonely outpost, living lonely lives. Or not, considering the amount of media attention Carson had recieved after his victory at Stalingrad.

Putting the Soviets on ice...so that's where he got his practice...

"I...didn't know you were here," Carson said eventually, glancing around the base in a vain effort to find someone to 'break the ice.'

"And I didn't know you were coming," Eva responded 'icily,' glancing at the single bag the commander had brought with him and silently calculating how long it would take for them to get to his quarters with it so they could part ways afterwards. "Thought you'd still be hitting it off in London."

"Yes...well, what can I say lass? England's nice, but a wee bit warm...thought I might try a cooler climate."

"Yes...well, you know all about that don't you?"

In another world, one that had ended a year ago along with the war, Eva wouldn't have dared talk in such a tone. In that world, she'd have expected to be disciplined on the spot for such words in the presence of a superior. But in that world, a world that had seemed so dark until the tide was turned in the Battle of Britain and sent all the way back to the USSR and Empire of the Rising Sun, Eva had found herself willing to bend the rules. Had been willing to let herself lower her emotional barriers. Had been willing to even go to the lengths of getting into a dress and outright inviting him to a night out. An offer that after months of serving together, she felt comfortable making...

...and Carson had cut the transmission then and there. Had left her out in the cold without even the decency or courage to vocally refuse. Facing him now...even with the winter gear on, her body bound in clothing bar her hair, it was almost as if she was wearing it right now. Wearing her heart on her sleeve...a sleeve that had bars well below Commander McKay's.

"Shall I take that for you?' the lieutenant asked eventually, gesturing towards the satchel.

"No, it's fine," Carson responded, "It's the least I can do."

Eva raised an eyebrow-least he could do? As in...what? Was he apologising? Did he feel the need to? Not that he was technically at fault, but...

"Anytime now," Eva said, gesturing towards the satchel, lying on the ground. "Take it, cut and run..."

"Sometimes you have to run. Sometimes you have to make the tactical decision rather than the right one."

Eva blinked, though only once. She told herself it was because of the snow.

"Eva, I know how you feel," Carson said, his Scottish accent rippling through the air as waters did at Brighton. "I left you hanging...left you out in the cold..."

"Sir, it was improper of me to..."

"After final victory over the USSR? No...not then. And if Tanya hadn't contacted me at the exact same time, I might have acted...improperly as well."

Eva remained silent, though it was a silence that didn't reflect her state of mind. Tanya had contacted Carson? At the same time she had? She knew that the commando had chastised her for flirting with her superior, but she'd never suspected it might have been a competition for affection.

"Long story short, I value not getting my neck broken," the commander grinned. "Mutual disappointment is better than a single one."

"Sounds like something the Reds would say..."

"Maybe. But at least in Japan, it's a different climate in more ways than one."

"Actually sir...maybe not."

Never mind that both countries were cold right now. Never mind...actually, as Eva met Carson's grey eyes with her blue own, her mind was about as fluid as the waters of the southern Pacific. She could understand Carson's reasoning on that night, lack of protocol aside, but...but...crap, she needed some tea. Not all the coffee in the world was helping, even as she took a sip from the styrofoam cup.

But as her...friend...gently scraped some snow out of her hair...as she began to feel her resentment melt like the snow would in spring...as memories of how she'd felt on that night began blessing like a flower...Eva knew at least one thing.

She didn't feel so cold anymore.