ensemble (leans toward Vansen/Hawkes); Rated G .

"Could it get any hotter?"


"What?" Lt. Paul Wang shrugged his shoulders, unsure what he'd done wrong this time.

West rolled his eyes. "You never say 'can it get'."

"Why?" Sounded like a stupid rule to him.

"You just don't."

"It's like Murphy's Law," Damphousse explained. "As soon as you say the words, it's bound to happen."

"Can we cut the chatter and get back to saving our sixes?" It generally fell to Vansen to keep the team on-track.

It was another damn hot planet in Chig territory. A light-cruiser had gone down on Veritas, and for some reason the higher-ups weren't sharing, the cruiser was worth recovering. So until the salvage crews showed up - another 3 hours and 42 minutes if they were on time - the 58th had guard duty. Which had been going routine, until a scouting party of Chigs had shown up. Now the squad had taken cover behind the ISSCV and the remains of the light-cruiser, pinned down with the enemy in front and the side. There was no hope of defeating the Chigs; their only hope was to hold ground until reinforcements arrived.

The lull was a temporary one, Shane Vansen was sure. However short, though, she'd take it. She wiped her forehead with the back of her hand, trying to keep the sweat from her eyes. "At least the atmosphere on Veritas is breathable. Otherwise you'd be sweating inside your flight suit."

Wang shuddered at the thought of how hot that would be. "Why can't we find a nice, cold planet? One with snow, and glaciers, and..."

"Polar bears," supplied Hawkes.

"Yeah, and polar bears!"

"I've never seen a polar bear."

"They have one at the San Diego Zoo," Damphousse reminisced. "I remember going there when I was --"

Renewed enemy fire interrupted her flight down memory lane. The next few minutes were a blur of shooting, angry dust clouds, and barked out orders.

When the next break in fighting came, no one had the energy to carry on a conversation.

Cooper Hawkes and Shane Vansen had taken cover behind the light-cruiser. Damphousse and Wang were behind a wall of rocks slightly to the right, and West and the rest of the team were using the ISSCV as their cover.

Hawkes fumbled around inside his uniform, trying to dig something out of an inner pocket. He took out a ragged piece of paper and handed it to Vansen. "Maybe this'll help." He gave a half-hearted grin. "It's stupid, I know."

Shane held her weapon in the crook of her arm while she unfolded the paper. "What is it?"

"It's a ceiling fan," Coop explained. "Well, a picture of one, not an actualů You see, you mount it to the ceiling," he used his finger to point out details, "and the blades rotate, cooling off the room."

"Where did you get this?"

"Tore it from a catalog called 'Nostalgia'. They sell vintage stuff, like the boom box I ordered."

Shane knew that Coop had weird ideas at times, but she just wasn't getting it. "And what am I supposed to do with this?"

Coop's cheeks turned a light pink. "You could look at it, and maybe you wouldn't be so hot anymore." He snatched it out of her hand. "I told you it was a stupid idea."

"Like when you kissed me on our training mission to Mars?" Shane yanked the paper back. "Thanks, Coop."

"Yeah, well, this doesn't mean we're going steady." His gruff words belied the spark of pleasure in his eyes.

Shane fingered the piece of paper in her hand, imagining she felt the whisper of a cool breeze caress her cheek.


Copyright September 2005 by Cait N.

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