Things in the Stratosphere

Some things you take for granted. The frown- the quirk of annoyance on his face.

That's what you, Cadet Trato, thought, anyway. Rather... it's the lack of thinking, right? When you take something for granted, that means you didn't know it could be taken away. You weren't thinking.

Like, when you cold-cocked the flyer on your left flank with a nice scrape, he screamed in the comm, 'you idiot, they're on our side.' But, what did he know- you distracted Alpha Team with your little stunt, and they left formation. Everything was easy pickings at that point. It was pretty funny listening to the string of curses coming through your earpiece, he knew a whole shitload of curses. Everyone did, you learned them the first day of training.

He was the top of his class on Crosay, the planet you only saw through your StarFinder on the coldest nights. When you met him, you knew you would cut that calm sonabitch' down to size.

Trato, you who have always been the top of everything, where did you get off crushing him? You making everything look so effortless... he must have been burning up inside. But, he never said anything.

Cadet Fisk, 'a cold fish'. That's the name you gave him, that all the new recruits called him. When command set you two up as flying partners, you saw Fisk get angry for the first time, almost broke rank by objecting to the pairing. You couldn't help wondering, what would happen if you told command that you would just love partnering up with Fisk?

In the flyer, you had controls, and Fisk had field range. With every star only a breath away, you wanted to race away from command until you hit the edge of the universe. 'Don't even try it,' Fisk said through the comm... he knew you pretty well, Trato. Anyway, that was the beginning of training, that was the before you took everything for granted.


The expanse of darkness stretching around them in an endless tilt-a-whirl seem all encompassing, where it not for the station on their port bow. After thirty minutes of extreme maneuver tests, both Trato and Fisk were ready to drift in the silent, airless ocean before rejoining the squadron. Trato was allowed these luxeries- he was the best pilot, seemed to move the flyer with precognizant ability. Command treated him with kid gloves.

And why? If you asked Fisk, it was because Trato was the son of an important shipping tycoon, a man who donated a lot of money to the spaceforce to keep the expressways clear of pirates. Well, Fisk would concede to sounding bitter, and admit that Trato's talents may be what kept command from wringing his neck.

"I got my third tier star yesterday,"

Fisk grumbled through the comm, barely acknowledging Trato's bragging admission.

"A congrats would be nice," Trato continued, resting against the controls as he watched their fellow cadets run formation drills. "I'm the youngest cadet to ever receive a third-tier."

"How wonderful," Fisk replied, his tone even more dry than usual. "I suppose this means you will be leaving us soon?"

"My time has come," Trato said, a smile playing on his lips.


"Officer's training."

There was silence on the other end. Only a select few were offered positions at O.T... Fisk had always dreamed of wearing the golden pin that meant he had graduated to captain. He might yet, but certainly not any time soon. "I'm sure you'll do us all proud."

"Oh, fuck off," Trato said, grinning into the comm. "You want me fall flat on my face."

"I never said that." Fisk couldn't help but smile, Trato tended to have that effect on people.

"You were thinking it."

"Oh fantastic, you can read minds then?"

Smirking at the chuckling on the other end of the comm, Fisk closed his eyes for a moment, imagining what it would be like to have a different partner. Surely he wouldn't be a cadet for too much longer... even if Trato was the best, he was still quite good. Maybe they would even promote him to controls.

"Not planning to kill me and take my place, are you?"

"What in the world?"

Trato tapped on the glass, the sound reverberating up to Fisk's pod. "You were being awfully silent."

"Just speechless from the pure force of your talent."

"Well, that's understandable."

"Fuck off."

More laughter. If one thing could be said about Trato, it was that he's quite good-humored.

You developed quite the camaraderie with him, didn't you, Trato? Fisk never hated you... at the most, he found you irritating- proof that there would always be someone better. Through the two years you boys were cadets and partners, some sort of affection had to grow, and it did. Of course, affection is where complacency begins, where suddenly things started to be taken for granted.

Flying, you two were always together. When work was done, you would go your separate ways. Trato, you had so many friends, so many cadets who wanted to ride on your coattails. The only thing you could identify as sincerity was Fisk cursing in your ear as you did a roll through drone fire.

On that day, you know which one I'm talking about, what were you thinking? A special goodbye? It's so hard when you think you share a secret with someone, that the two of you speak a secret language. That's the problem with things taken for granted... what if the other person wasn't in on the secret? Suddenly, you find yourself taking the plunge alone.

"I told you the hawk formation would work."

Fisk sighed in defeat. "But it wasn't the assignement," he said, unwilling to give up without a fight.

"Maybe the assignment was to use your goddamn head."

"Trato!" Plucking the comm from his ear, Fisk slammed it down on his field range screen, and smiled with satisfaction when he heard Trato yell.

"Goddammit!" There was some silence, presumably as Trato rubbed his ear. "That hurt."

"Getting hit by drone fire would have hurt more."

They sat in silence, drifting again as Alpha Team took a shot at the course. Several days of advanced drills had passed already, and neither had mentioned Trato's promotion. Not that Fisk cared, it wasn't like they were friends. Clicking open the field range, he took an ineffectual scan of the moving dots, wondering if his job was actually necessary. No doubt, Trato would be able to get along just fine without knowing there was a flyer miles away.

"Clarson is throwing me a goodbye party,"

"Is he?" Fisk hated Clarson. The pompous ass latched on to Trato in their first week, and was nearly as rich. Like most of the main planet cadets, Clarson figured Fisk for a Crosay hick, and never gave him much thought after that opinion formed. "Well then, I couldn't possibly stay away."

"Ah, Fish," Trato said, "Let's bury the hatchet, shall we?"

"I'll think about it." There was a tick of silence. "And don't call me Fish."


I saw it, Trato. That moment when you decided bullying Fisk wasn't as fun as bantering with him. The very fact that he didn't like you meant he would never bullshit you. That's how trust is formed, right? And in all of your naive trust, you thought you knew everything that could be known about ol' Fisk the Cold Fish, the eternal virgin.

Well, you made a mistake, Trato... I think you see that now. With all your braggadocio, your posse of drooling cadets lumbering after you, your money... everything that should have covered your over-inflated ego with a fluffy, cushy force-field... all of that did nothing to prepare you for what you saw. Maybe, since you were so glaringly oblivious to your own feelings, the blow was slightly softened. Of course, if that were true, you wouldn't have done what you did.


"Extremely stellar flying, young man."

Trato smiled. "Thank you, sir."

The command officer patted Trato on the shoulder. "You'll do quite well in the future."

"I hope so," Trato replied, the epitome of modesty. He had his hands clasped stiffly behind his back. The officer gave a curt nod of approval, and walked off down the hall. Without waiting a second, Trato turned on Fisk with a triumphant grin. "I told you," he said in a sing-song voice, "If a formation is successful, they don't give a shit which one you used."

Fisk crossed his arms. "Fine," he said. "I never should have questioned you."

"Right?" Trato replied. He sighed out, shaking his head. "Don't worry Fisk, some people are meant to follow rules, and some are meant to break them."

Fisk quirked an eyebrow. "You read that in a book somewhere?"

"No," Trato said with a dodging tone. His smile grew into a grin, and he slapped Fisk on the shoulder. "Come on then," he said, "You're about to lose your only friend, don't you want to come to the party?"

Not one to show emotions, Fisk merely smiled wanly. "I'll find you before you leave to say goodbye."

"You're going to be lonely without me, aren't you?" Trato replied with a pitiful shake of his head.

"Yes, I suppose I will."

Reaching out, Trato ruffled Fisk's hair. "Don't worry," he said, "O.T. only lasts a year, and then I'll find my way back here." He leaned in with a nudge and wink. "Who knows, I might even become your commanding officer."

"Wouldn't that be something?" Fisk lightly tapped his watch. "They're waiting for you."

Trato nodded, and stepped away from the other cadet with a wave, and started to stride down the hallway. As he turned a corner, he realized that he forgot to tell Fisk what time he was leaving the next day. With a spin, he stepped back around the hallway, only to stop dead in his tracks.

"I thought that smug bastard would never leave."

It was some nameless cadet, pressing Fisk against the wall. He had has hand down Fisk's pants. Watching with an open mouth, Trato made a slight garbling sound as the boy starting sucking on Fisk's neck, who... moaned with pleasure. Fisk was clutching on the cadet's back, his eyes screwed shut as he let out a sound that made Trato blush.

"I find it's best to just agree with everything he says, it seems to make him go faster."

The nameless cadet chuckled, stretching up to view his handy work. A red blotch marred Frisk's neck, and somehow made Trato feel nauseated. He backed away silently, and made it down several hallways before collapsing against a wall. Sinking to the ground, suddenly everything made horrible, horrible sense.

How did it feel, Trato? To watch me leave my mark on Fisk's skin? It must have hurt a lot.

This is what I mean by taking things for granted- you just assumed that Fisk started and ended in your presence, that he was a tree that fell without making a sound. So, let me tell you what happened when you weren't around: he made sounds, he moaned and laughed and cried as I fucked him, as I fuck him still.

He beat you in the end, didn't he? Just by never falling in love with you, he destroyed you.

So... you may be wondering why I hid this transmission in the sublinks of command communication. It's because I knew you have those lines hacked, you and your pirates. I know Trato, I know everything. You never went to O.T. You took the first flyer to the badlands, you used your considerable talents to gain favor with the thieves and the bandits. And finally, you started causing trouble for Fisk.

You can annoy him all you want, rob as many cargo ships as you want, attack command for all I care.

I just wanted you, Trato, to know... Fisk is mine, because I never took him for granted.



I needed a creative outlet, and the well had run a little dry with my other stories, so I thought I would give a oneshot a try. Definitely, I will be editing it, revising, rewriting, etc.

The challenges of a one shot- building chemisty, bringing everything to a resolution, in one chapter... I'm not sure I quite accomplished what I set out to do.

The idea came from that money-shot moment (the one you tend to see in manga) where the person who doesn't know they're in love sees the object of their affection in the arms of another. I want Trato to be self-assured in every aspect of his life, especially his friendship with Fisk, only to have everything shatter when he sees Fisk focused on someone else. That realization.. that Fisk's most important moments don't involve Trato, in fact, that he barely thinks of him at all.. this would be the first time Trato experiences disappointment, and heartbreak.

Anyway, like I said... I will be reworking a lot of it. I want this to be a successful oneshot.