A.N.: Ok, so apparently this had become a Vansen/West one shot series, but this one was written with more friendship than actual shipping in mind.
She was always in charge.
Long before her parents were killed. Military life, they were never around. Anne and Lauren were always fighting, always getting into trouble. She was in charge. It was her job. Take care of her little sisters. Make sure they were fed, make sure they were dressed, make sure they were clean.
Make sure they were safe.
"Shane, take care of them. Remember how I told you?"
Mom didn't even had to ask. It was always her job. The most important thing.
The 58th weren't kids, but they were family. She was still in charge. Military life. They were always fighting, always getting into trouble. She was in charge. It was her duty. Take care of her team. Make sure they had chow, make sure they got their uniforms, make sure they were sharp.
Make sure they were safe.
McQueen didn't even have to order. It was always her duty. The most important thing.
Anne. Lauren. The 5-8.
She couldn't lose control. She couldn't let go.
But she did. And it wasn't until she did that she realized Nathan... was different.
Nathan didn't need to be taken care of. He didn't need her. He was in control.
When she did lose control, when she let a lifetime of night terrors take hold of her while awake, in a hallway on the dark side of the Sun, he got it for her.
Took one look, half a second, a blink, and took charge from her.
Gathered the team, organized them, ordered them.
Made sure they were safe.
Made sure Shane could breath.
For a minute, for a full minute, she wasn't in charge. She was free not to be in control.
Shane could breath.
Nathan got her breathing, got the oxygen on the facility flowing, got her a moment to gather herself. Got her standing.
Nathan didn't need her and Nathan was in control for as long as she needed to get hers back.
Two years later, one of them in Hell, she stands in a tarmac on an airbase God knows where. There is fanfare, there is press, there are people. To receive the returned POW, the returned hero, the returned Marine.
She doesn't feel like a hero. She barely feels like a Marine.
She does feel like a POW.
They are there. Anne. Lauren. Cooper. Nathan.
She can't look at them.
They stand there, awkward. Waiting for her. Waiting for her to make the first move. Always waiting for her to make the first move.
Anne and Lauren are crying. Red faces, rimmed eyes. Holding hands. Shaking.
They need consolation. They need reassurance.
They need her.
Cooper looks lost. Staring at her, wide eyes.
He needs explanations. He needs guidance.
He needs her.
Nathan is standing. Just there. Watching her.
Not needing her.
She walks towards him. One step. Another.
He meets her halfway.
Holds her, puts his hands on her back, supports her weight and she lets herself sink.
For one moment. One second.
"I got you. You're safe."
He takes charge.
Shane can breath.