Cooper woke up ten minutes before reveille. He moaned, threw an arm across his eyes and cursed under his breath. Great. Yet another day on the 'Toga. Another day of fighting, another day of watching the only people he cared for put themselves in danger. Wang had already died, Vansen and 'Phousse had come close and Nate...
At this point, he suddenly realised he wasn't in his bunk on the 'Toga. He tentatively cracked one eye open, and saw a large [in comparison to the bunk rooms on the 'Toga] room, with yellow and blue wallpaper, blue curtains ['Curtains ? What spaceship has curtains ?'], a small closet and a double bed.
'Double bed ?' He opened both his eyes now, and looked across the bed to his lover.
'Lover' The thought brought a smile to his face. He reached out a hand and traced Nathan's cheekbone. When he was asleep, the man looked so much younger. It was like all the worries just fell off him. Cooper got an idea of what his lover might have been like if he hadn't been forced to join the Marines. Then again, if he hadn't, they would never have met. On the other hand, then Nathan and Kylen would still be together ... and dead.
He shook his head mentally and continued to stroke Nathan's face, as if he wanted to imprint the feel of it in his memory.
This woke up Nathan, who opened his eyes and whispered "Hello." Nathan smiled lazily and brought up his hand to grasp Cooper's. He kissed the palm of the hand, then moved on to the fingers. Sucking on them slightly, one at a time, while looking Cooper straight in the eyes.
Cooper could get lost in those eyes, so loving, caring, feeling, ... He bent over to kiss his lover. He replaced his fingers with his lips and captured Nathan's tongue in a breath-taking duel. Their hands seemed to get a life of their own and started roaming the other's body.
Nathan moved his body over Cooper's and pinned his arms above his head. Cooper tried to get his hands free to explore Nathan's body. When he couldn't, he frowned and looked pleadingly.
Nathan grinned devilishly and shook his head.
"Uh-uh, Coop. You're all mine. I get to do with you what I want and you just lie there and do nothing."
Cooper tilted his head to one side and looked like he was seriously thinking about it. "Okay," he agreed. "But if you're gonna hold my hands, how are you gonna have your way with me ? At least I hope you're gonna have your way with me--" His voice trailed of and he pouted. 'God, I'd do anything for him when he looks like that,' Nathan thought.
"Hm, Hang on, I've got an idea." He released Coopers hands, saying : "Don't move. I'll be right back." Then he disappeared into the other room, coming back quickly. Cooper noticed something in his hands that looked like silk scarves.
He arched an eyebrow and looked a question at Nathan, who grinned and said : "I bought these back on the Bacchus. I was gonna give them to my mum and my aunt for Christmas, but ... Well, let's say I can think of better ways to use them."
He took one of the scarves and used it to tie Coop's right hand to the bed. It took him some time, because Cooper kept using his other hand to take liberties on his body. When he was finally done with the first hand, he shot a dark look at Cooper, who answered it with a sunny, innocent smile.
"All right, smart ass. Let's see you smile after I'm done with you." He took Cooper's other hand and fastened it too. This time, he was finished much quicker.
After he was finished tying up his lover, Nathan kissed him thoroughly, not letting go until Coop was seeing sparkles before his eyes due to the lack of air. Not allowing Cooper any time to catch his breath, Nathan moved to sucking his lips, then placing a series of soft kisses along his jawbone.
He followed the elegant curve of Coop's neck to his shoulder, biting and leaving a mark on the hollow right above the collarbone, while his fingers teased the navel at the back of his neck.
Cooper moaned, arching his back in pleasure. Nathan grinned and whispered hoarsely : "You like that, huh ? Well just wait, love, you ain't seen nothing yet."
The next thing Cooper knew, Nathan's mouth and tongue were all over his chest, hardening his nipples. He closed his eyes and just concentrated on the feelings that were slowly taking over his body. He felt Nathan's hands moving to his back, searching out that one spot that made him moan and throw his head back in passion.
Then, the hands and mouth moved further southwards, ignoring his equator, his centre, the most heated place on his body.
He felt like Nathan's hands were everywhere, tracing the muscles in his legs, kissing the inside of his thighs, making him moan and pull the scarves, wanting to break free and take matters in his own hands, so to speak. But Nathan had been a boy scout in his youth, and therefore he knew his knots. So all Cooper could do was lie there and beg Nate to speed it up. Finally, his lover had reached his ankles, placing kisses on spots Cooper had never known were such a turn-on.
Nathan moved back up, covering Cooper's body with his own, so that their cocks touched. He placed his elbows on either side of Cooper, rested his head on his hands and, with his most innocent look, asked : "So, how about breakfast now ?"
Cooper gave him an incredulous look and, eyes sparking fire, started to struggle against the scarves again.
Nathan laughed and said : "Okay, okay, I get the point." They kissed once more and Nathan reached for protection, put it on and positioned his cock at Cooper's entrance. That made Cooper once more moan in anticipation and arch his neck. He looked beautiful like that, completely vulnerable, holing back nothing.
In one swift move, Nathan joined their bodies and their mouths. He moved slowly at first, trying to make the feeling last, but they were both too far gone and pretty soon his thrusts became faster and pushed them both over the edge.
When he had caught his breath, Nathan untied Cooper's hands and immediately, Cooper gathered him in his arms for a hug and a deep, slow, loving kiss.
They just laid there, silently, enjoying the feel of the other close by. Coop had curled up against Nathan's body, his head on his lover's chest, listening to his steady heartbeat, letting himself drift away at the steady rising and falling of his chest.
Suddenly, a low rumble woke him from his half-sleep. He looked at Nate's face and saw a broad smile. Unable to resist the urge, Coop leaned over and kissed him.
Then he asked, softly : "What's so funny ?"
"I was just thinking what the others 're gonna say when they find out about us."
Cooper thought about that for a moment and a smile began to spread across his face, his eyes sparkled and he lit up the entire room.
"Well, Shane will probably just say it was about time. She's been bugging me to take a chance –" he giggled for at the pun "-with you for a while."
"She knew ?"
"Yeah, well I had to tell her, didn't I ? I mean, I don't think she would've played along if I hadn't told her why."
"So you guys have just been pulling our leg all this time, huh ?" Nathan pretended to be angry. "Well, you're gonna have do your best to convince me to forgive you."
"Oh, don't worry, I will," Cooper said, a predatory grin on his face. His mouth covered Nathan's in a slow, deep, maddening kiss. "But not now. We both need a little time to recover."
He settled in against Nathan's body again. "'Phousse is gonna have the shock of her life."
"Yeah. At first, she won't be able to say anything. Then, she'll probably say something about the two best guys on the 'Toga turning on each other."
"And McQueen--?" They looked at each other and laughed.
"Oh, man, McQueen is gonna have a heart attack," Cooper grinned.
"Yeah, he'll die on the spot and then come back to haunt us."
"We'll have to break it to him carefully. I mean, he's bad enough as it is, imagine him being able to walk through walls--" Cooper pretended to shudder in horror. They both laughed again, thinking about the menace McQueen would be as a ghost.
"I wonder what Wang would've said," Nathan pondered.
Cooper's eyes darkened for a moment, then lightened again as a grin lit up his face. "Probably something like this," he said, getting on his knees, so he could more or less sit up.
"First you try to knock each other's head off," he said in his best imitation of Wang, "Now you wanna fuck each other's brains out. You guys just can't go for the middle road, can you ?"
After three seconds, they couldn't keep a straight face and burst into a fit of the giggles.
When they finally got themselves together again, Nathan asked : "Hey, what time is it ?"
"You hungry ?"
"Uh-huh," Cooper said, a devious look on his face.
Nathan just arched an eyebrow at him. "I mean for food. Breakfast, you know. This is our last chance for a normal breakfast. Gotta go back to the 'Toga tonight."
Coop tried one more seductive look, then gave in and said : "Fine."
Getting very decisively all of the sudden, Cooper swung his legs over he side of the bed, stood up and walked over to the window.
He pulled open the curtains and opened the window. Leaning on the window still, he just stood there for a moment, breathing deeply, enjoying the fresh air that was such a contrast from the city smog or the recycled air he was used to.
Nathan looked at his lever and held his breath. Coop looked beautiful like that, naked, covered in nothing but sunlight. He was about to go over to him and make love to him all over again, when a sharp knock broke the magic.
"Hey, if you guys want breakfast, you'd better get up now," Lina's voice said. "There's eggs, pancakes and waffles."
Coop and Nate looked at each other, considering the possibilities. Nathan really wanted to have Cooper to himself for a while longer, but their stomachs decided otherwise.
The guard was staring at the screen in front of him and felt his stomach twist. These people were sick. How could they do that to an innocent kid ? Damned if he knew what they were doing, but it was pretty obvious thy were hurting the kid. Screamed worse than most of his mates had, being tortured by the AI's. What was he screaming ? The guard leaned in closer and turned the sound up a bit.
"No ! make it stop ! The pain, make it stop ! All the suffering Please !"
The guard's stomach twisted again. He turned the sound down and turned his face away from the screen. Kid couldn't be older than 6, probably even younger. Looked like 4, but with what they were feeding him, there was no way he could look his age. And his eyes -- His eyes looked like a hundred. He turned to the screen again.
"What do you see, kiddo , What do you see that makes you scream like that ? And why do they make you watch ?"
Cooper seemed to be having a lot of fun with the youngest children, Nathan mused. They were playing 'Twister', a 20th century game in which the goal was to put your hands and feet on the right coloured dots and not to fall down. Nathan grinned devilishly. Maybe they should take this game with them. This could be fun. Kim appeared in the doorway and yelled : "Kids, lunch is ready, come and get it while it's hot !"
Suddenly, all the children stormed into the kitchen and started arguing about "You're taking too much. I want some too."
"Oh, shut up,, yer little squirt, there's still plenty left."
"I am not a little squirt !"
"D2, and now shut up, both of you."
Walking into the kitchen, Nathan saw Puck and Hamlet looking at each other as if they wanted to disintegrate each other, while Rain shoved them both off to the table.
"Sometimes they really drive me crazy," she remarked, taking three cups out of a cupboard. "Do you guys want some soup ? It's grandma soup."
Cooper looked quasi-suspiciously, then backed away from her. She giggled and explained : "We call it grandma soup 'cause it's a recipe from mum's grandma. It's just tomato soup. So do you want some ?"
Cooper shrugged and said : "I'll try anything once."
"So I've noticed," Nathan commented, and got a glare from Cooper. He faced it with an innocent smile that made Cooper burst into laughing.
"Did I miss something here ?" Rain asked confused.
They shook their heads and Nathan said : "Ya had to be there," causing Cooper to laugh even harder.
"You guys are weird," Rain said, disappearing into the dining room with her cup of soup.
After they had finished eating, Cooper and Nathan helped Kim with the dishes, while the kids went 'rehearsing'.
"What are they rehearsing for ?" Cooper asked Kim.
"Every year on midsummer night, they do a play for us. The first one was seven years ago. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', of course."
"So what are they doing this year ?"
"What's that about ?"
"I think you'd better go ask them."
Cooper looked questioningly at Nathan, who said : "You go ahead, Coop. I'll be right there."
After Cooper had rushed off to the library, where the kids were rehearsing, Nathan turned to Kim. "Can I ask you a question ?"
"I know this is gonna sound really weird, but why are you working here ? I mean, didn't you get the Stranahan virus ?"
"Yes I did, and so did Billy. We just interpreted it differently." She took a pile of plates and went to the kitchen. Nathan followed her, his hands full of cups.
"But--" he frowned.
"We took a chance, Nathan. We trusted Katie. Never regretted it. I like living here, I like the kids, I like it that we're treated like normal human beings, which we are. And," she suddenly grinned, "I like it that they need me. Katie and Sean have a lot of talents, but cooking isn't one of them. If it weren't for me, they'd eat nothing but cram."
"When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain ?" Guinevere said in a dark, cracking voice.
"When the hurlyburly's done, when the battle's lost and won," Rain answered her.
"That will be ere the set of sun," Tanya foretold.
Coop was watching them, fascinated by the rhythmical flow of words that suddenly stopped as Tim forgot his line once more. Jesse shouted at him : "Tim ! You're supposed to say 'Doubtful it stood; as two spent swimmers, that do cling together and choke their art.'" Can't you at least try to remember ?"
"Look, Tim, why don't you go learn your lines, we'll practice another scene, okay ?"
"Which scene do we take ?"
"How 'bout act 4, scene 1 ?"
Nathan came in and saw Guinevere, Rain and Tanya standing around Anders.
"Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." At that moment, they heard a sharp knock on the door.
"Is it okay to come in ?"
"Yeah, come on in, mum." Katie walked, or rather stumbled, into the room. "Hey, mum, have you been working through the night again ?" Tanya asked, sounding concerned. All she got was a glare from Katie.
"Since when are you the mother ? I'm old enough to know what I'm doing. 'Sides, I almost got in this time."
Rain sighed. "How do you guys expect us to grow up normally anyway ? I mean, look at this family : an IV father, a mother who spends entire nights trying to hack into government computers, two AI's and I'm not even mentioning the children." She threw her hands in the air in a quasi-desperate movement.
Cooper was looking around the library. He picked one of the books and asked Guinevere : "Hey, what kind of book is this ?"
"Sofie's World. Very good novel about the history of philosophy."
Cooper started browsing through it.
"You can borrow it, if you'd like to read it," Sean said.
"Really ? But, I mean, what if I lose it or something ?"
"That's nothing. These are just our ordinary books. We keep our special books in our room. Go ahead, take it with you. Take any book you like."
Eventually, he took 'Sofie's world', the 'Foundation' series of Isaac Asimov and 'Gone with the Wind' "I want lots of different kinds of books," he explained his odd choice.
"Are you sure they're gonna fit into your luggage ?" Tanya asked him.
"Sure. And if they don't, I'll leave out a couple of shirts," he grinned.
"Er, speaking of luggage, Coop, we'd better go pack if we wanna be back in Dublin in time."
Cooper zipped up his bag and popped down on the bed. "What time is it ?"
"So when do we have to leave ?"
"Taxi'll be here at 15:00."
"That means we have 35 minutes to spend."
"Whatever. So, whaddaya wanna do ?"
A sly grin was his only answer.
They were only just dressed again, when someone knocked on the door.
"Is it okay to come in ?" Guinevere popped his head through the door opening, holding his hand before his eyes, but obviously peeking through her fingers.
She looked so comically that Nathan couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, it's okay, come on in."
She lowered her hand, looking slightly disappointed, and said : "Your cab's waiting."
"I wonder what the guys have been doing," Vanessa said. She and were hanging around the ISSCV that was going to take them back to the Saratoga, waiting for their squadmates.
"I think there's two possibilities," Shane answered, "Either they've had a gigantic fight, or Coop finally took his chance."
"Say what ?"
She chuckled. "Well, I'm not really supposed to tell this to anyone, but I have a feeling Coop's gonna tell you himself soon. Coop's in love with Nathan." Phousse's eyes got so big Shane was afraid they were gonna fall out of her head. "What ? But- I mean, what about you two ?"
"Yeah, we had you all fooled, didn't we ?"
"Why, you sneaky--"
"There they are ! And they don't look like they had a fight."
"Why do I get the feeling Shane already knows ?"
"Hmm ?" Nathan wasn't in a very talkative mood.
"Look at the way they're looking at us. It's like they know."
"so ?" he shrugged, "Spares us the trouble of telling them.
"Maybe you're right."
"Of course I am."
"Hello," Shane greeted the guys when they finally arrived at the ISSCV.
She looked them over from tip to toe, then said : "I'd ask how your leave was, but judging from that grin of yours, Cooper, I'd say it was pretty good." Said grin got even bigger. "So," she continued, whispering, "Does that mean what I think it means ?"
"Well, it was about time too !" That elicited a burst of laughter from Cooper and Nathan. "What ?"
After lots of explanations, they finally got into the ISSCV and were shipped off to the Saratoga.
"You know, there's probably gonna be newbies waiting for us," Shane remarked.
"Yeah, and a new CO, too," Cooper figured.
"Well, he or she can't be worse than McQueen."
"Nothing is worse than McQueen," Phousse stated.
"Oh yes, there is," Nathan said, "Picture McQueen as a ghost, walking through walls."
A collective shudder made the pilot look over his shoulder if everything was all right.
As Shane had said, the newbies were already there when they got to the bunk room.
Cooper's eyes were drawn immediately to a short, blond girl. She looked very fragile, but he suspected she could kick some serious butt. Her light grey eyes quickly scanned the four of them, first Shane and Phousse, then they rested a little longer on Nathan, with an appreciative look. As her eyes moved on to him, he shot her a look that said : 'He's taken. Hands off.' She seemed to have understood him, because her eyes moved from him to Nathan and back again and then her mouth quirked slightly in disappointment.
The next newbie Cooper noticed was a tall, slender guy with light brown hair and sparkling blue eyes. He had been sitting on one of the top bunks when they came in and was now sliding elegantly onto his feet.
He stretched out his hand to Shane and said : "Hi, I'm John Briad, 2nd Lt. They gave me the call sign 'Jack of Diamonds' I guess that makes you my Queen." Shane gave him a doubtful look, then shook her head and his hand.
After Briad had shook all their hands, the girl said : "Um,; I'm Sheena Reilly, 'Queen of Hearts'." Again, the age-old ritual of shaking hands.
That left one more newbie to introduce : a black-haired, green-eyed, tall man, who had tried to remain in the shadow. "Damien Thorn, 'Ace of Spades'. Somebody around here has a strange sense of humour."
"What ?" Cooper wanted to know.
"About 100 years ago, there was this movie about this kid, called Damien Thorn, who was the apocalypse or something. And the Ace of Spades is an omen of death," Damien explained.