By Amy "AnnieO" Hanna
Edited by Sharon "Trivia" Blank
"Hey!" Doc shouted, "Check it out." The others glanced at each other and followed Doc out of their office into the large common area. "When was the last time you saw it do that in Arizona?" He motioned to the large window, and the falling snow that was now beginning to cover the ground.
"Maybe twice since I’ve lived here." Zach said.
Niko smiled, "It’s beautiful, and now it really does seem like Christmas." She glanced over and frowned slightly when she noticed the expression on Shane’s face. "Goose?" The ST didn’t answer, just stared out at the moonlit flakes, one hand touching the window. "Shane?" She gently touched his shoulder.
Goose pulled his eyes away from the dance taking place outside. "Sorry, Niko."
"Are you ok?" she asked softly.
"Yeah." He smiled. "Just thinking."
"So, my Goose man," Doc’s cheerful voice broke in. "You ever see snow before?"
Goose glanced back out the window, his face a mask, but his eyes filled with emotion. "Once."
* * * * * * * *
All is calm
All is bright….
*What’s that? * The boy asked himself as he watched the white flakes fall from the sky. He warily glanced behind him making sure none of the others had followed him out of the barracks. At six, he was the youngest and smallest among the Troopers, which often made him an easy target for the older children. As he did most nights since being placed with the others, he had snuck out of the barracks and had been going to one of his hidey-holes, when he had caught site of the falling snow. He stood, mesmerized as the flakes danced in the light outside.
The boy spun around, instantly alert and ready to defend himself. His green eyes narrowed as he watched the man standing before him. "You gonna tell?"
Max Sawyer regarded the child before him, and for not the first time, hated himself for what he had become a part of. Only six years old and already his innocence and trust were lost. "Depends."
Shane’s green eyes flashed and he slowly backed away from the man. "On what?"
Max stood still, knowing any sudden moves would just make the boy more nervous. "Why you’re not with the others?"
"Not a very good reason." He frowned when he caught sight of the bruises on Shane’s face. "Did the others beat you again?"
Shane quickly glanced around the small hall, and silently cursed himself for allowing the man to block the only escape route. "Why do you care?"
The question startled Max, *Yeah Max, why do you care so much? Because they’re still kids, damn it. No matter what Nagata says. "Commander Walsh will want an explanation when he sees those tomorrow."
Shane’s expression looked frightened for a moment before the mask fell back into place. "I can take care of myself. I’m a Super Trooper."
"Have it your way." Max turned to leave, and out of the corner of his eyes he caught Shane’s startled expression.
"You’re not gonna tell?" Shane’s voice had a tinge of hope in it.
Max turned back to the boy. "No." He watched as the boy’s eyes flicked back out to the falling snow. "You’ve never seen snow before, have you?"
"Snow?" The boy turned, his curiosity caught
Max walked over to the window, "The flakes. You’re lucky to see it here. Normally it doesn’t get cold enough to snow."
Shane’s green eyes watched the falling flakes. "They’re all different."
"Yeah, each one has its own shape." Max glanced down at the boy for a moment. *Don’t even think about it, Sawyer. Damn it..he’s still a child* "Shane, come with me."
The boy looked up, "Why?"
"I want to show you something." The boy seemed to pull away when Max reached out a hand. "Trust me."
Shane regarded the man before him and after several minutes he tentatively reached out and clutched Max’s hand in his. "For now."
Max nodded, knowing that was as much as the boy could offer. He led Shane through the deserted corridors to an unfamiliar door. Shane looked up, startled. "You have to promise not to tell anyone about this, Shane."
Shane thought for a moment before answering. "I won’t."
Max nodded and pulled the door open.
* * * * * * *
‘Round yon virgin
Mother and child
So tender and mild…
Shane stood, frozen to the spot just outside the door. The cold air caressed his thinly clad body and the white flakes seemed to dance all around him. His eyes darted here and there trying to take in everything at once. Max smiled to himself at the boy’s expression and for the first time he saw Shane look like the child he really was. "Look," Max moved and grabbed a handful of the snow and made it into a small ball. "When I was a kid my sister and I would always build a snowman after the first snowfall."
"Why would you want to build a man from snow?" Shane asked his voice tinged with disbelief.
Max chuckled. "For fun." He motioned for Shane to pick up a handful of snow.
Cautiously Shane put his hand into the white ground covering. Instantly he felt the cold biting into his bare hands. He picked up a small handful and took a cautious sniff, sneezing as he inhaled some. He looked towards Max who gently nodded and encouraged him to continue. He was amazed by the texture as he crushed it in his hand and formed it into a small ball. He watched amazed as it slowly began to melt in his hand from the heat his own body generated. He had never felt anything like this before and without a second thought reached out and grabbed a second handful.
Max stood watching as Shane inspected the snow, and for the first time since agreeing to this project he felt as if he was doing something worthwhile, if only for this one moment. He laughed softly when Shane took a bite out of the large snowball he was slowly creating and wished to himself that this moment could last forever. "So," he asked the boy. "What do you think of snow?"
Shane glanced up at the man, his cheeks bright red from the cold wind, his green eyes unguarded for the first time since he had joined the others a year ago. "It’s just water." He shrugged, but he continued to pack more snow into his ever-growing ball.
"Can I show you something?" Max asked before he approached. Shane nodded, but as always watched as the man came closer. "We need to lay on our backs."
"Why?" Shane asked, his wariness returning.
Max smiled and slowly lay down on his back, patiently waiting until he felt Shane lying beside him. "Now, look up and watch."
Shane looked up and suddenly took a quick breath. They were everywhere, dancing on the wind and lit by the moon. He never remembered seeing anything like it before and was fascinated by the way the flakes seemed to glow in the sky. Tentatively he reached up a hand and tried to grab the dancing snow, only to have it melt before he could catch it. He and Max lay there in silence until their bodies began to grow numb with cold
Max suddenly stirred and stood up beside him. "We have to go back now, Shane."
Shane remained motionless for another moment before standing and following Max towards the door. He paused just outside and his green eyes again glanced towards the snow filled sky.
"Shane." Max motioned from the door.
With a sigh he followed the man back into the building and watched as slowly the door closed.
* * * * * * * *
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace…
Goose stood alone on the promenade above Beta, watching as the snow calmly danced in the darkening sky. He had declined to join the others for dinner, preferring to be alone. He wasn’t surprised when he heard Niko’s soft footsteps on the ground behind him, however.
"Niko," He greeted without turning his eyes from the snowflakes. She calmly came up beside him, not speaking, just waiting. "I was six."
He took a sip from the now cold coffee he had brought with him. "The first time I saw snow."
Niko glanced up at her teammate and was startled at what she saw. He had dropped his mask, and for the first time he looked lost. "It must have been very special to you."
He nodded, still not taking his eyes off the sky-lit dance. "Can I show you something?" he asked, finally glancing down at her.
"Of course." She smiled back.
He sat his coffee cup on the small ledge. "You have to lay on your back to see it, though."
She sighed but lay beside him on the cold stone. "I don’t see why we…" She stopped mid-sentence when her eyes caught sight of the falling snow. "Shane, it’s beautiful." She glanced over at the former ST, and again was startled. She could see what he must have looked like as that six-year-old boy and she knew a part of him was still that child, fighting to cling to the last bit of innocence he held.
"I still don’t know why Max showed me," he said, more to himself than Niko.
"Maybe he didn’t need a reason, Shane. Maybe he just cared."
Shane shrugged and reached out a hand, catching the falling flakes in it and watching as they melted. Niko lay there watching the man she thought she knew. And silently she thanked the man who had taken a small, scared six-year old outside on a silent night, and given him a touch of heaven.