“SO THIS is life in the Air Force,” Nick says, surveying the airfield they’ve just landed at. It’s not desolate or anything, just abandoned, when he looks beyond the controlled chaos of their arrival. Alongside the ground crew running around, there's the roar of fighter engines and the bustle of arriving pilots. Their planes look as out of place as they would in an elementary school playground.
“You just flew over here in a fighter jet,” Scott says, slinging his jacket over his shoulder and following their squadron toward the buildings. “What’s your problem?”
“We’ve just flown here from, you know, civilization, to a place that probably doesn’t even have radio for a war that might not even happen,” Nick complains. This is their first deployment, and he’s disappointed by how much of a let-down it’s turning out to be.
“Okay, you see all the people running around looking very busy?” Scott asks, shoving the two of them closer to the other pilots with the arm he has around Nick’s shoulders. “They’re called a ground crew. They set up radios and bring us weather reports and keep everyone fed.”
“They do windows as well?” Nick asks, ducking out from under Scott’s arm, his skin tingling where they were pressed together. Not that anyone’s going to notice, when they’re all sweaty and rumpled from the flight out. He’d kill for a shower.
“They keep you from falling to an untimely death in the middle of Iraq,” Major Lennox says, coming up behind them. “An endeavor for which you’ll express regular and enthusiastic appreciation.”
“Yes, sir,” they chorus, and that feels just like home.