Author's Note: This is a World War Two alternate universe for "Top Gun" where I've taken the main characters, Maverick, Iceman, Viper, Goose, and Slider and put them in the South Pacific. Due to the fact that Corsairs were single-seaters, I've turned Goose and Slider into pilots themselves, helping to expand the squadron. For the time, they are island-based rather than carrier, but this doesn't mean that I won't be writing about that in the future. As always, I claim none of these characters as my own nor am I making a profit from this in any way. It's merely a way to explore new ideas and get me writing about aviation again.

"Maverick!" shouted Ice. "Our planes are this way, or have you forgotten already?"

Inhaling deeply, Maverick kept his temper even as he turned his head and flashed Ice an infuriating smile. "I'm taking the scenic route."

"Maverick, we have our planes to cover!" Ice growled and he took a few steps towards him.

"It can wait five or thirty minutes," replied Maverick evenly as he retreated, still smirking at his comrade.

"No it can't! Viper expects this to be done now!"

"Yeah well, isn't that what the ground crew is for?"

"He wants us to do it!"

Maverick just smirked. "It'll only take a minute."

"That's what you said the last time and look what happened then!"

A wide grin spread over Maverick's lips as he put his sunglasses on. "Yeah, it was a great time, wasn't it?"

Ice narrowed his eyes and advanced on Maverick, who remained as firm to his spot as the palm trees that stood guard over their barracks. Ice dropped his voice and glowered at him. "Get your ass over to the Corsairs, now!"

The anger in Ice's voice amused Maverick as there was little he enjoyed more than pestering his rival. Ice's remarkably sweaty face flushed with fury and the flare in his eyes should have warned Maverick of the rising danger in the coiling of this rattlesnake, but he was far too busy thoroughly enjoying this moment to pay much heed to it; nor could he see the telling signs of another misfortune about to befall the pair of them. Maverick simply smirked and said, "It seems to me we're both wasting time. I could go and deliver this very important message while you, you could be covering the planes with camouflage."

"Deliver the message afterwards! The camouflage is important!"

"You worry too much, you know that Kazansky? Perhaps you should come with me and get a drink."

Ice gritted his teeth and hissed, "Don't make me force you, Maverick."

Maverick quirked a brow and leaned into Ice's scowl. "Now that's something neither of us want. Remember what Viper said? No more fights otherwise it's both our asses in the brig for a long time!"

"Then I suggest you get to your damn plane and cover it up!"

"I will!" exclaimed Maverick, causing Ice to jerk suddenly, but a small, triumphant smile crossed his lips immediately afterwards. Maverick grinned and said, "After I get back. I promise it'll only be a minute, or four..." And before Ice could object any further, Maverick turned on his heels and hastened away.

"Maverick! Goddamnit, Maverick!" Ice shouted, but it was no use.

"Hey, Ice! How about these planes?" called one of the pilots.

Shaking his head, Ice knew that unless he was willing to get yelled at by Viper for not getting the planes covered, he had to let Maverick go. He could only hope that Maverick's dedication to insubordination wouldn't get him into trouble as well. No. That would never fly. Ice groaned inwardly as he walked towards the Corsairs, knowing full and well that when Viper was away, he was in charge and that meant that whatever Maverick didn't do, or especially what he did do, Ice was ultimately responsible for it. He was screwed no matter what.

Ice staggered and swayed, then caught himself with his right foot and glanced at Goose and Slider, who were busy finishing the first Corsair. To his left, two other pilots were securing the poles while another two pilots helped drag the netting over. At least he'd have the camouflage taken care of and that meant one less thing for Viper to be upset about should he return to find Maverick missing again. It was also a weight off of Ice's mind, knowing that the netting would help turn these blue blots into normal island foliage to any aerial predator that might be stalking them from high above. Barely a week ago just south of them and far closer to the action than them, an island base had been attacked by Japanese fighters. The planes had been their first target and with them sitting in the open like that, it hadn't taken much effort to destroy a majority of them. In the midst of the annihilation of the aircraft, one Zero had strafed the barracks, effectively killing a good number of men and putting dozens more into the hospital. The base had nearly lost all because their airplanes hadn't been covered and their security had gone lax. Ice didn't want to share that fate.

Shivering, Ice pulled his mind from his thoughts and set about helping the pilots with the netting, barking out commands as though he was a drill instructor. The pilots gave him loathing scowls but did as they were told. Ice was notoriously bossy, but a solid leader; someone that they could trust. At any rate, the sooner they got their work finished the sooner they could get out of the infernal heat! They worked in an orderly procession, moving from one plane to the next until at last, they were on Ice's plane. In no time they had finished and the pilots were only too happy to leave Ice's presence. Only Goose lingered behind, watching as Ice circled his plane, running his hand over the fuselage and making sure that every compartment hatch was still secure.

"Anything else, Commander?" Goose teased with a playful smirk.

Ice looked over at him and frowned. Damn this infernal headache! In a soft voice he replied, "No. Just, just make sure Maverick isn't going to land us in trouble again, okay?"

Goose gave a knowing nod, then moved on his way. He was good like that; loyal to Maverick but still loyal to the squadron. Goose was always an amiable fellow and Ice was glad that they had at least one comedian in the bunch. How someone as intelligent, insightful, and witty could be friends with that incorrigible Maverick was beyond Ice's understanding. Then again, Ice mused as he continued his inspection of his Corsair, perhaps witty and intelligent kept incorrigible from causing death to them all. To hell with it. Ice rolled his eyes to the netting above his head and felt the sun beating against his exhausted body. Maybe if Maverick got into enough trouble he'd be transferred out of the squadron once and for all.

An hour later, Goose spied Maverick taking a long drink from his canteen and he grabbed Maverick by the arm, catching him just before he stepped into the barracks.

"Oh, I don't think that's a good idea!" exclaimed Goose quietly as he steered Maverick around a palm tree and hurried him towards the Corsairs.

"Why, what are you... Goose! What's going on?"

"What's going on? You've been gone an hour and Viper is looking to roll your head if you're not with Iceman!"

"Wait, why should I be with him?"

"Because that's where I said you were!" replied Goose with a touch of anger in his voice. "It was the only thing I could think of at the time!"

Maverick beamed at him and clapped him on the shoulder. "Good thinking!"

"It wasn't for you," snapped Goose. "Now find Ice and tell him that Viper is looking for him!"

"Where is Ice?" asked Maverick, not bothering to hide the hurt he felt at being scolded by his best friend.

"Probably still inspecting our planes with the mechanic or something. It's the last place I saw him but you had better find him before Viper finds you otherwise, we're all in it."

Maverick frowned at him and replied quietly, "I'm sorry, Goose."

A small smile appeared on Goose's lips and he shook his head. "I can't stay mad at you, man. Just, don't ruin our weekend because you wanted a date! Find him!"

Maverick smirked and took off towards the Corsairs. One by one he went looking for Ice but didn't seem him. Sweat ran down Maverick's neck when he saw Viper exiting the barracks. He ducked under the radial engine and crawled underneath the wing, reappearing at the trailing edge. He kept his eyes on Viper and saw that he was heading straight towards the Corsairs. Maverick sighed, but he refused to resign himself to his fate just yet. But as he pushed himself up, he was startled to find someone laying on the gull wing.

"Ice?" Maverick questioned incredulously as he peered at him. He couldn't help the chuckle that escaped him and he said, "Sleeping while on duty? You know, Viper is going to love this!"

Ice was tucked against the side of the fuselage with his head facing the engine. His eyes were shut and he was very, very still. The right arm was curled against Ice's body with the palm flat against the wing as though he had been trying to push himself up only to fail. Something wasn't right. Ice would never chance a nap in the middle of duty hours; especially when he was the one that Viper relied on to keep their squadron organized when he wasn't there. Something was horribly, horribly wrong.

"Ice, Iceman, wake up!" Maverick shouted as he scrambled onto the wing. He took hold of Ice's hand and felt for a pulse. The result startled Maverick and as his worry mounted, he placed his palm against Ice's brow; cool and moist. Looking into Ice's face, Maverick yelled, "Ice! Come on, Ice! Wake up!"

Ice groaned weakly, "Stop shouting, Mitchell! I'm not deaf!"

Maverick dropped his head and sighed in relief. "For a moment there, Kazansky..." Then he glared at Ice and helped him to sit up on the wing with his back against the fuselage. "You, you are an idiot, Ice!"

"Me?" Ice shook his head, immediately wincing and nearly falling on his side. "You're the one always screwing up! Just... just look at how long you've been gone!"

"I was about to ask how long you've been out!" Maverick unfastened his canteen and pressed it against Ice's lips. "Drink this! And don't worry, it's just water! I can't believe you! Of all the dumb things for you to ignore!"

Through his slight shivering, Ice glared defiantly at Maverick, daring him to continue hurling insults his way, but Maverick knew that this was not the time or the place for it. Sighing in exasperation, Maverick unfastened the top buttons on Ice's uniform blouse, recieving a prompt shove from Ice.

"What are you doing?" Ice demanded.

"Saving your life," replied Maverick coolly as he moved to Ice's feet and took off his boots. "Seems like someone got a bit too much sun today. By the way, Viper's looking for the both of us."

Ice glanced at his watch and a look of horror came to his face. He shut his eyes and let the back of his head hit the plane.

"Look, don't worry about that right now," said Maverick, suddenly feeling a sense of pity for what Ice had to be going through. Maverick had sorely wanted to be Viper's second in command, but the honor had fallen on Ice's broad shoulders on account that the men were more willing to follow Ice into battle than him and when it came to military protocol, Ice was always the best. Ice had taken the responsibility with great pride, too much it seemed, for despite Ice's perfection in everything, he had overlooked one tiny detail that could cost him his life. But that would not be today, Maverick was damn sure about that.

"I'm going to get you help." Sliding off the wing, Maverick went around to the front of the aircraft where he was surprised to find Goose standing right there, looking in confusion at him.

"Where's Iceman?"

"He needs help."

Goose groaned. "Don't tell me you punched him again!"

"No, no, not my fault this time! He's sick. It's that heat stress, but I can't be sure if it's worse than that."

"What?" Goose's startled exclamation carried over to Viper, who looked their way.

"What's going on?" demanded Viper as he quickly crossed over to them.

"It's Ice. He's not doing so well," was all Maverick could say as led the two back around the Corsair. As soon as Viper saw Iceman, who had fallen on his side again, he was up on the wing beside him. After a few moments of checking Ice's vitals, Viper looked back at Maverick and Goose. "He needs to get to the hospital immediately. Goose, you go get the jeep. Maverick, you stay with Iceman."

"Yes, Sir," both Maverick and Goose replied.

As Goose went to fetch the jeep and Viper departed briefly, Maverick rocked uneasily from one foot to the other and looked back at Ice. Before Viper had left, Ice had said something to him that was completely inaudible and in response, Viper merely squeezed his shoulder gently. Maverick felt the same touch of pity from earlier and frowned in sympathy at him. Their eyes locked and for once, Maverick could see the pain in his eyes. Had it been there before and he had just failed to notice it? For Ice to be in this poor of a state meant that it had to have been going on for some time. Maverick felt his spirit sink. Maybe this was his fault. Maybe if he hadn't been goading Ice and had instead paid attention to him he could have seen the symptoms earlier. Maverick blinked, then saw a familiar anger returning to Ice's eyes. So Ice did blame him for this.

Maverick ran a hand through his own damp hair, trying to think of something to say to him. No apology seemed fit for this though and in despair, he climbed onto the wing and helped Ice into a sitting position again and held the canteen for him to drink. Ice didn't refuse the help and drank steadily. They sat in silence and when the jeep arrived, not a word passed between them. He wasn't needed after that point and so Maverick went back to the barracks, suddenly feeling less enthusiastic about the night than he had been earlier.

Two hours later, dismissed and beckoned to the officer's club by some of the pilots so he could impress the nurses with his tale of heroics, Maverick found that the only thing he wanted was peace. But there was no chance in getting that while he felt the weight of Ice's illness on his shoulders. Turning away from the club, Maverick ventured over to the one-story hospital where he was taken over to see his comrade. It didn't surprise him any to find Ice with his eyes closed and so he sat on the edge of the cot and patiently waited.

"Mitchell?" came Ice's confused voice sometime later and Maverick blinked awake. Ice tilted his head at him. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to see how you were doing."

"Too much sun and not enough hydration," replied Ice stiffly, tiredly. "They want to keep me here overnight and see how I look and feel in the morning."

"I'm sure you'll be up to your cranky, old self as soon as you wake up," said Maverick with a half-hearted smile.

Ice returned it with a wry grin of his own. "Is that why you came here? To piss me off some more?"

Maverick chuckled but said nothing and simply bowed his head. Apologizing to his rival would not be easy, but then again, apologizing in general was never an easy task.

"Look, Mitchell, I never thanked you for what you did back there," said Ice quietly.

Maverick looked up, surprised.

"I, I don't know how long it would have taken someone to find me there. And even if I was found, I don't know how many people would have seen anything but a napping pilot. Thank you for actually checking on me."

Maverick's smile faltered. "I should have noticed earlier."

"It's not your fault; it's mine."

"You? Admitting fault?" Maverick grinned outright. "Now that is a surprise!"

Ice rolled his eyes upwards and said, "Yeah, a bit more common than yours though. At least I can admit my mistakes, though they are so few and far in between."

Maverick shook his head in annoyance at the arrogance, but he was grinning all the same. "Just as I said, Iceman, you'll be back to your cranky, self-righteous self in no time." He placed his hand on Ice's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "I'm glad that you're going to be okay. Rest easy now."