Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky arrived on the USS Enterprise, antsy about the upcoming mission. He knew they had the best-of-the-best on this mission, but he still felt as though his heart was going to give out knowing his best friend, his husband, was going on the mission when he was never meant to. Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was only meant to teach how to survive this mission, not actually fly it. It made Ice feel antsy and fearful all the same. They weren’t as young as they used to be, and this was something that his husband had yet to come to terms with.
“Mav, please,” he had begged at one point when Maverick was in the hospital after surviving a near-death experience, “please accept the promotion. You can’t keep doing this, you’re fifty-eight! Please, Mav. For me? If not, then for Bradley?” He knew it was a dick move bringing their estranged kid – Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw – in to try and guilt trip his beloved husband, but he had to. It didn’t work, clearly. If this mission and Operation Darkstar were anything to go by. Ice always said Maverick was the one making him go grey, and maybe he was right about it.
Greeting the pilots in the room, he settled to standing behind his husband, eyes boring into his lover’s back. “This is a very specific mission,” Maverick started, “my choice is a reflection of that, and nothing more.”
“Pick your two foxtrot teams,” Cyclone guided.
“Phoenix and Bob, Payback and Fanboy.” The two pairs called out looked at each other, nodding before looking back at the three admirals and captain stood before them.
“And your wingman.”
Iceman tensed, trying to breath normally. Please pick wisely, Pete. Please, so you can all come home. “Rooster.” Shit. Ice found Rooster in the crowd of twelve recruits and his gut tightened. Please don’t do anything stupid, Baby Goose. Iceman watched as everyone headed out, heading for their jets to prepare. “Tom? Everything alright?”
“Why’d you pick Bradshaw?” Was Ice’s first question, throughing Maverick for a loop.
“Because he can fly this mission,” he responded adamantly.
“He’s slow, he’s too cautious-”
Maverick glared up at his husband who stood at 5’9 compared to his height of 5’7. “Stop. I will not have you convince me into picking someone other than Rooster. He has proven himself to me time and time again over the past couple of weeks, and you will not manipulate me into picking anyone else. Do you understand, Admiral Kazansky?”
Ice winced when his husband referred to him professionally and not by his callsign nor his name. “I’m just looking out for you,”
“And I appreciate that,” Maverick replied as they walked over to his jet, voice growing in volume to be heard over the yell of the F-18s around them, “but you do not get a say in my decision, Admiral. I have made my decision and you will not sway me.” Arriving at his jet, Maverick placed his helmet on and climbed up the ladder. “I’ll see you when I get back.”
Ice just nodded, knowing there was nothing he could do or say that would sway the stubborn captain’s decision. Going to the control tower, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky of the Pacific Fleet became his callsign, became the Iceman he was known for – ice cold, calculated, calm, controlled. He had to be if he was listening to the mission play out. His husband was on the mission, as was the man he helped to raise… God, their old classmates must be rolling in their graves with how everything had turned out.
“Dagger 1,” Maverick’s voice came over the comms, “up and ready on catapult 1.”
“Dagger spare standing by,” came Lieutenant Jake “Hangman” Seresin’s voice.
“Dagger 4,” came Lieutenant Reuben “Payback” Fitch’s voice, “up and ready.”
“Dagger 3,” came Lieutenant Natasha “Phoenix” Trace’s voice, “up and ready.”
“Dagger 2,” came Rooster’s voice, “up and ready.”
“Support S is airborne,” informed one of the informants, “strike package ready. Standing by for launch decision.”
Iceman almost crumbled when everyone turned to look at him, awaiting the signal for launch. “Send ‘em.”
“Dagger 1 away,” the informant informed. “Dagger 2 away. Dagger 3 away. Dagger 4 away.” Bring them home, Pete. Alive. The tension in the room was thick, you could cut it with a knife.
“Comanche, Dagger 1 standby check-in.”
“Comanche 1-1-set, pics are clean. Recommend dagger continue.”
“Copy,” Maverick replied. “Daggers descending below radar.” If Ice’s gut wasn’t tight before, it sure as hell was now.
“Daggers now below radar,” called the informant, “switching to E-2 picture.” Be safe. All of you.
“Here we go,” Maverick spoke. “Enemy territory up ahead. Feet dry in 60 seconds. Comanche, dagger 1, picture.”
“Comanche, pics are clean. Decision is yours.”
“Copy,” Maverick said before falling silent. This didn’t help Ice’s rising panic at all. “Dagger attack.”
“Tomahawks airborne,” a second informant announced.
“No turning back now,” Admiral Solomon “Warlock” Bates murmured.
“Daggers, assume attack formation.” Ice watched as they formed the attack formation, Dagger 2 falling behind Dagger 1, Dagger 3 behind Dagger 2, and Dagger 4 behind Dagger 3. “Daggers set, proceeding to target. 2 minutes and 30 seconds in 3… 2… 1… Mark.”
“Going in.” The sounds of grunting could be heard over the comms, Ice’s heart jumping in his throat. “First SAM sight overhead.”
“More SAMs, 3 o’clock high!” payback called out.
“We got 2 minutes to target,” Bob informed them all.
After hearing about the bandits, Ice couldn’t help but want to melt on the spot but he couldn’t. he was Iceman. He was the Admirla of the Pacific Fleet. He couldn’t break, not here, not now. He had zoned out for a while, leaving Cyclone and Warlock to control the situation. When he zoned back in, his heart jumped to his throat.
“Here it comes.” They were at the point in the mission where Maverick’s Miracle 3 was about to be played out – everyone coming home. “Radar warning – smoke in the air. Phoenix break right!”
“Emergency Jackson, Dagger 3 defending!”
“There’s another one!”
“Dagger 1 defending!” He activated his flares. “Rooster status!”
“Almost there Mav. Oh my god… Smoke in the air! Smoke in the air!”
“Break right, Payback, break right!”
“Oh my god, here we go!”
“SAM on your 6 Rooster!”
“Deploying countermeasures! Negative contact.”
“Dagger 1 defending.”
“Talk to me Bob!”
“Break right, Phoenix, break! Nine o’clock! Nine o’clock!”
“Rooster two more on your 6!”
“Dagger 2 defending!”
“Payback, SAM on your nose!”
“Dagger 4 defending!”
“Rooster, tally, tally-”
“Talk to me Bob-”
“On your six-”
“Dagger 2 defending!”
“I see it, I see it!”
The comms were pure chaos, everyone shouting out locations of SAMs, defending, and what they were doing. But there was one part that really tuck out ot Iceman, as it did with many others in the room. “Dagger 2 defending!” Rooster called out. “Shit, I’m out of flares!”
“Rooster! Evade, evade!”
“I can’t shake them. They’re on me, they’re on me! Mav!” Watching as Maverick’s icon disappeared of the screen, along with Rooster’s cry of “Mav no!” made the admiral’s next exhale a shaky one, one full of disbelief, one full of grief. His husband had been shot down. To Maverick, this would mean the mission was unsuccessful but to everyone else, including him? It was a successful mission – the uranium facility had been successfully destroyed, as well as the enemy runway.
Beau “Cyclone” Simpson didn’t know Pete “Maverick” Mitchell very well. Heck, he only really knew the guy as someone who disobeyed orders, who pissed off those higher up in rank than him. But hearing the reaction of Rooster, as well as seeing how many people – including the recruits who were put up as spares and those in the control room – reacted negatively to the news of Maverick being shot down made him rethink all of what he knew about the man. Why did he disobey orders? His crew always came back alive when he did. Why did he piss of those higher up in rank than him? Because he cared for the pilots when no one else did. Everything that had confused him about Pete “Maverick” Mitchell could easily be explained.
Solomon “Warlock” Bates was once Maverick’s student while he was a teacher at Top Gun. He had a lot of respect for the captain, especially when the man cared highly for those on his own team. Hearing the reaction of Rooster as well as seeing how Iceman, Cyclone, and Hondo reacted… he would deny it if you asked him whether he had to duck his head to wipe away tears that threatened to fall.
Bernie “Hondo” Coleman couldn’t help but bow his head the minute he saw Maverick’s picture disappear from the screen. He and Pete had been friends for the past half a decade, and to see the man he believed in and trusted and respected so much to defend the man who had verbally assaulted him time and time again, as well as wish death upon him, made Maverick getting shot down even harder to swallow.
Jake “Hangman” Seresin bowed his head from where he sat in his F-18. Maverick had gotten shot down, he heard it over the comms, and he felt guilt fill him, as well as resentment. If he had been chosen as Maverick’s wingman instead of Rooster, this wouldn’t have happened. If Rooster had been put as spare and not Hangman, Maverick would have returned with the rest of them. But instead, Rooster was picked, and Maverick got shot down.
The recruits who were put up as spares were devastated, hearing their captain – their Pops – be shot down. He had flown the mission successfully, but they all knew it wouldn’t be classed as successful by any of them if they didn’t all survive it.
The daggers were silent in the air, trying to process the fact that Maverick was gone, that there wasn’t anything they could do, and for the fact that search and rescue wasn’t going to be released. They were appalled but could understand. There were two bandits in the air, and they had to get out of there.
Ice had been zoned out for a while, trying to comprehend the fact that both his husband and his husband’s godson had gone down. “Canopy!?” What? Who was shouting?
“Sir, we’re receiving a signal from Rooster’s ESAT. There seems to be a malfunction.” The second informant spoke up.
“Clear!” Was that Rooster? Were they alive? “Both runways are cratered, how are we going to get this museum piece in the air?”
“Have you lost em?” Asked Warlock, seeming to also be shaken from his stupor. Ice had to remind himself that Maverick used to be the admiral’s teacher when he as at Top Gun.
What the hell were they trying to fly? “Why are the wing coming out, Mav? Mav, this is a taxiway, not a runway. This is a very short taxiway, Mav.”
“No sir,” the second informant shook his head, “he’s stationary.”
“Malfunction?” Cyclone suggested.
“You just hang on.”
“Alright, come on, come on, come one. Needle’s alive, come on.”
“Can they not hear us?” Warlock pondered.
“I don’t think they can,” Hondo replied.
“That’s it, come on. Alright.”
“Here we go.”
“He’s airborne,” Hondo realised.
“In what?” Ice asked the question everyone was wondering.
“Sir,” the first informant spoke up from Iceman’s right, “overwatch reports an F-14 tomcat is airborne and on course for our position.”
“It can’t be,” Warlock gaped as he looked at the screen in front of him. “It-It can’t be.”
“Maverick.” Cyclone announced.
“Okay Rooster, get us in touch with the boat.” Maverick spoke. So they can’t hear us…
“Tower to Dagger 1, come in,”
“I’m working on it.” Rooster replied. “Radios out, no radar, everything’s dead back here. What do I do? Talk me through this.”
“Okay first, the radio. Throw the, uh…” God, they’re in a fucking F-14. That was Goose’s department. “The UHF-2 circuit breaker. Try that.”
“There’s 300 breakers back here anything more specific?” Rooster asked.
“I don’t know, that was your dad’s department.” Maverick replied.
“I’ll figure it out.” Rooster went silent for a bit before he spoke up, a tone of panic in his voice. “Mav, tally two, 5 o’clock low. What do we do?” Shit. The bandits.
“Okay listen, just be cool. If they knew who we were, we’d be dead already.”
“Well, here they come. What’s your plan?”
“Strap your mask on. Remember, we’re on the same team. Just wave and smile.”
“What’s that signal, what’s he saying?”
“No idea, I have no idea what he’s saying.”
“What about that one, any ideas?”
“Nope, never seen that one either.” Oh boy… “Shit. His wingman is moving into weapons envelope. All right, listen up. Grab those rings above your head – that’s the ejection handle.”
“Mav, can we outrun these guys?”
“Not through missiles and guns.”
“Then it’s a dog fight.”
“This should be interesting,” Warlock commented making Ice chuckle.
“An F-14?” Maverick asked, incredulous. “Against fifth gen fighters?”
“It’s not the plan, it’s the pilot.” Rooster reminded. “You’d go after him if I wasn’t here.”
“But you are here…”
“Come on Mav – don’t think, just do.” He’s right, Pete.
The comms went silent, except for Maverick and Rooster’s exhales as they fought against the fifth gen fighters. “Tell me when you see smoke in the air!”
“Smoke in the air! Smoke in the air!” Rooster called out seconds later.
“Yeah Mav! Splash one, splash one!” They went silent again for a few minutes before Rooster exclaimed, “There comes another one!”
“Rooster flares, now, now, now!” He exhibited the flares. “Splitting the throttles!”
“Give me tone, give me tone.” Maverick begged.
“You got it Mav! You’ve got him!”
“Taking a shot.” It seemed as though he was about to celebrate when he chimed back in with a “What the--?”
“Holy shit, what the fuck was that!?” Rooster gaped.
“Hang on, we gotta get low. The terrain will confuse his targeting system.”
“There he goes! Ugh!”
“Talk to me Rooster, where is he?”
“He’s still on us!” Rooster informed. “We took a hit; we took a hit!”
“C’mon Mav, do some of that pilot shit! Holy shit!”
“I got tone! Taking a shot.”
“Outta missiles, switching to guns.” You’ve got this Maverick. “C’mon, Mav, c’mon!”
“You got him Mav!”
“It’s not over yet.” Warned the older of the two. “One last chance.”
“You can do this!”
“Yes! Splash two! Mav I got the radio on!”
“Outstanding,” there was a clear grin in Maverick’s voice, “get us in touch with the boat.” You already are.
They were both silent until the room was filled with the sound of someone having missile lock on them. No… “Oh my god…”
“Where the hell is this guy!?”
“He’s on our nose…” Maverick murmured shakily. “Damnit, we’re out of ammo. Smoke in the air! Rooster, flares!”
“That was close!” Rooster remarked. “We’re out of flares, Mav! Shit, he’s already on us! Agh, this is not good! We took another hit!”
“No, no, no, no.” Shit, be careful Maverick. Don’t do anything stupid.
“We can’t take much more of this!”
“We can’t outrun this guy, we gotta eject.”
“We need altitude - pull the ejection handles the second I tell you.”
“Rooster there’s no other way! Eject! Eject! Eject! Rooster, pull the handle – eject!”
“It’s not working! Mav!”
“I’m sorry…” Don’t… “I’m sorry, Goose…” Mav, please… Ice almost broke right there when he heard hi husband apologies to his dead best friend, his deceased RIO. The other recruits had joined them in the tower and he could see Coyote pull the others into a group hug, trying hard not to show the fear they were feeling for their teammates. C’mon Mav, we need you back here.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is your saviour speaking.” Maverick sighed with relief when he saw Hangman pull up on his wing, and Iceman did too. Thank you, Seresin. “Please fasten your seatbelts, return your tray tables to their locked and upright positions, and prepare for landing.”
“Hey Hangman,” Rooster greeted, “you look good.”
“I am good Rooster. I’m very good. I’ll see you back on deck.” They’re alive, they’re on their way home. But they’re not safe yet.
They soon got close to the carrier, andit was clear something was wrong. “Maverick is downwind, no front landing gear, no tailhook. Pull the cable and raise the barricade.” Flying past the tower he noticed they had tarted to rasie the barricade. Alright, fly by and they should be done by the time we reposition.
“Please don’t tell me we lost an engine.”
“Alright,” Maverick said, “I won’t tell you that.”
“You good?” Maverick asked after they had landed.
“Yeah, I’m good.”
As the canopy raised, cheers surrounded them. Maverick couldn’t help but grin, getting out of the cockpit with Rooster. We did it… we fucking did it… “Pops!” Hangman called out, pulling him into a tight hug as the others joined. “How the fuck did you pull all that off in an F-14!?”
Maverick just shrugged as Medics rushed over, crowding the two pilots into the medical wing. Entering, they were pushed into beds where they were examined. There wasn’t too much damage, just harness bruising from the ejection, but Maverick had broken a couple ribs. He blamed it on the fact that he had ejected twice in a month and not the fact that he was getting old. As fatigue was beginning to set in for him, he was greeted by the relived face of his husband who rushed over, hugging him. “Don’t pull a stupid stunt like that again, you little shit,” he ordered before pulling him in for a kiss, fuck the rules. His husband could have died, and he came home, alive, with all of the kids in tow. Fuck the rules. “I worried I’d lost you, Mav.”
“S’rry, love,” Maverick apologised sheepishly as fatigue finally hit him full force, slumping in his husband’s embrace. Ice noticed immediately, gently setting him down on the bed where he zonked out the minute his head touched the pillow beneath him.
The story was similar with Rooster, his boyfriend Hangman berating him in the same manner as Ice had with Mav. “Please, Roo, never scare me like that again,” he begged, holding his boyfriend to his chest.
“Okay,” Rooster whispered, kissing his boyfriend’s cheek as he too slumped in the arms of his lover, “I won’t. I’m s’rry.” Hangman only kissed his forehead in response, settling down beside him and the two soon falling asleep. The mission was successful, and everyone came home alive. What more could you ask for?