Disclaimer: All things Space Above and Beyond belongs to whoever owns them now. It sure isn’t me, or it’d still be on the air.

Rating: PG at most

Notes: This is more or less in The Moving Finger Wrote universe. It isn’t necessary to read that, but if you want to find out more about Jen and McQueen that’s were it all starts.

Challenge: This is my response to the letter challenge, from Dear Earth
Email Contact: P.Christie

He Wears A Pair Of Golden Wings


Phyllis Christie

An hour after McQ gave his interview to the AFN

Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius McQueen’s stomach clenched as he paced his quarters. He’d done as Commodore Ross had requested and given the Armed Forces Network the interview they’d wanted: In-Vitro experiences in the military. It had been difficult to open up like that and share the feelings and events that had shaped his life. He doubted sleep would come easily tonight.

He hadn’t dared look around him as he’d spoken. His words had been too personal, too private and he knew he couldn’t have stood to see their affect on casual bystanders. He’d looked up only once and that was directly into the clear gray eyes of Lt. Com. Jenny Kirkwood, MD. It was what he’d seen in their depth that had kept him going. Somehow no matter what he did, or what his past had been, she was always there, waiting just out of his reach. Always giving him quiet strength to do what needed to be done, no matter how difficult the task.

Jen was a friend and they went back a number of years, but sometimes, like tonight, when he looked at her, he thought he saw more. The beginning of something that could never be, because she was Natural Born and he was In-Vitro. Even their friendship put her in danger, she’d been mugged once because of her stand on In-Vitro rights, and he vowed it would never happen again. That had been before the war, before he’d pulled her unconscious body off a planet being hammered by Chig artillery fire.

Reaching over he turned on his sound system. Instead of the usual classical music, the clear pure notes of a woman singing filled his quarters. She sang about loving a man who wore golden wings on his uniform. About loving him no matter where he was, or what he was doing, and how very proud she was to be seen with that man. He remembered the woman singing that song in the Tun, and how angry he’d gotten as she sang, but what he’d never told anyone, was the reason for his anger.



Two weeks after Ray Butts died, and a week before the Wild Cards extract Jen Kirkwood and the survivors of the 918th Air Wing sick bay off Kordis

The Tun Tavern was packed. Everyone had gathered to listen to the USO troop that was spending three nights entertaining on the Saratoga. The Chig War had just begun and many people where still in shock from the horror of the attack on two of Earth’s colonies, so these performers from home were particularly welcome. Not only did they remind all present what they were fighting for, but they gave them a moment’s respite from the specter of death.

As the applause died down, the tall brunette who had sung often during the show stepped forward. “Thank-you all for coming. I realize that a few of our songs are very old, since they’re from a war over a hundred years ago, but in many ways they express what we’re all feeling. I have one last song. I’ve taken a small liberty with the original lyrics, since our flyers wear golden wings instead of silver, now days. She took a deep breath and her voice rang out as clear as a bell. She sang, “he’s the man who taught my happy heart to fly, he wears a pair of golden wing…”

When her song ended, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, until she raised her head, then the room exploded with applause. Her eyes were bright with tears, but she smiled, and everyone in the room knew that she hadn’t been singing to them, but to some very lucky man who she carried in her heart. “Thank-you, thank-you, all.” She waved as she left the stage.

“That woman sure can sing.” Commodore Glen Ross sipped his beer.

“Her voice is beautiful, but I don’t like her songs.” Lt. Col. TC McQueen frowned. When she’d been singing, his mind kept wandering back to a woman he’d cut out of his life six months earlier. He and Jen had been close friends, but he’d never let himself think of her as anything other than that, too much separated them. And here he was sitting on the Saratoga, with her safe on Earth, remembering. Remembering the year she’d spent with the Angry Angels, how she’d taught him to sail, and the long nights in detox, when it was only her voice that had kept him sane. He forced one more memory into his head, the one of her sitting in a hospital bed, beaten with a cigar burn on the back of her neck, in a parody of an In-Vitro’s navel. That had been the morning he’d cut her out of his life. If he kept focused on that picture, he might be able to cut her from his thoughts as well.

They were interrupted when Jonathan Parker, the organizer of the tour, brought the singer over to meet the Commodore.

“Commodore Ross, this is Gillian Robertson.” The introductions were extended to McQueen as well, and soon Gillian was sitting with the two men.

“You don’t like my songs, do you Colonel?” She looked McQueen right in the eyes.

“I worry about the affect they may have on moral, Miss Robertson.” He looked over at the table where the Wild Cards were sitting. Nathan West’s face was drawn and tired. “These men and women are thousands of MSK’s from home, they don’t need to be reminded what they’re missing.” He knew that if her music dredged up old memories for him, it had to be hell on less experienced soldiers.

“Don’t you think maybe they might want to be reminded that those at home are missing them too?” Her deep brown eyes sparked in challenge.

“That would be ideal, but often it’s not the case.” McQueen stood up and took a last sip of his beer. “If you will excuse me, Ma’am, Commodore, I have an early morning tomorrow.”



Four hours later, McQueen entered the gym. Usually at that late hour he was the only one there, but tonight Gillian Robertson was running on the treadmill. From her appearance she’d been running for a while, and showed no signs of stopping anytime soon.

“If you keep up like that, you’ll be too sore to do your show tomorrow.” His deep voice cut into her concentration.

She jumped slightly and would have tripped if she hadn’t grabbed onto the rails until she was able to get back into step. “You startled me, Colonel.”

“Then it’s a good thing you’re a singer, not a soldier. If you don’t pay more attention to your surroundings, you end up dead.” He got onto the machine beside hers and began a slow warm-up run.

“Thank you, I’ll keep that in mind.” She breathed deeply and kept on running.

They ran side by side for another fifteen minutes without saying a word “Miss Robertson, you run like you’re trying to get away from something, or are you running toward something.”

“Pardon me?” Her brow arched as she watched him increase the speed on his machine.

“I believe you heard me.” McQueen wasn’t used to having people question his authority.

“I quit!” Gillian turned off her treadmill and grabbed her towel. “The gym is all yours. You don’t like me, and you definitely don’t like my songs.” She had only taken a few steps when she turned back and glared at him

“Miss Robertson…”

“It’s Mrs. Robertson, Colonel.” She held up her left hand. On her third finger there was a slim gold band that he hadn’t noticed before. “And maybe you’re right, maybe I sing those songs as much for me as for the troops. But they give me hope.” She wiped tears off her cheeks as she thought of her husband far away.

“Where’s he stationed?” McQueen moved off his machine and guided Gillian to an exercise mat where they sat down.

“Alex is First Officer of the Eisenhower.” She shrugged not sure what else to say. “The captain’s a good woman and she’ll get him home in one piece if anyone can.” To talk about it felt as if she was jinxing it, so she quickly changed the subject. “Surely you’ve got someone waiting somewhere for you, Colonel?”

“I’m In-Vitro.”

“I’d noticed,” she nodded toward the back of his neck. In his torn workout shirt, his navel wasn’t covered. “But that doesn’t answer my question.”

“I’m divorced.” His words came out curt and quiet. He had no plans of mentioned the small blond doctor who he hadn’t seen since before the war, but who’d been filling his memory since he’d heard Gillian sing.

“You can’t tell me there’s no one, you’re an attractive man.” She grinned at him as he scowled at her. She could see he was hiding something behind his tough exterior, and it was a lot more important than an ex-wife.

“Humph.” He wanted to keep on glaring at her, but settled for a shake of the head.

“Colonel McQueen,” she lay her hand on his. “Don’t use either reason as an excuse. Life is too short and this war can make it shorter.” There was a burning in his eyes that boarded between pain and passion at her quiet words. She’d struck a nerve, and he was fighting to keep it from showing.

The two sat and talked long into the night, but Gillian was never able to get the Colonel to mention the woman she was sure held the key to the strange cool man’s heart. As the singer walked back to her quarters she wondered if McQueen had buried that woman’s memory so deep that even he didn’t realize how import she was to him. Grinning Gill resolved to do something about it, though it was going to be a challenge, since the USO ship, The Bob Hope was picking them up that evening, and they were off to the next firebase or carrier.



Saratoga three hours after McQueen gave his interview in Dear Earth

In the same Mail Call as the requests from the Armed Service Network, McQueen had received a small package. It had contained the recordings he was listening to and a short note from Gillian Robertson.

Dear Col. McQueen,

I recorded these for you. I’m here to say it isn’t that way.

That night you said no one taught you about loving, well no one taught you about the feelings needed to survive a battle, but you do it all the time.

All those hours that we talked, I could see there was someone you were thinking about. I want you to listen to my songs and go right ahead and think about her, until you can’t stop yourself from letting go of old hurts and moving forward, hopefully toward her.

One thing this war has taught me is that forward is the only way to go. Because by looking backward all I see are good-byes, and I’ve already had too many of those, so no more good-byes, only hello, from here on in.

I gotta run. The mail is leaving in ten minutes. Take care, and if you see Alex before I do, tell him I said…. ‘Hello.’



McQueen read the letter for the third time, as the gentle sounds of music that had been popular during an earlier war filled his cabin. Had she known? Had she known that 20 hours after she posted her letter, the USO ship that the Bob Hope, would be hit by enemy fire, leaving no survivors?

He reached for a pen and paper and to the sounds of a dead woman’s voice, wrote the hardest letter he’d ever had to write.

Commander Alexander Robertson,

I was very sorry to hear of the lose of your wife. She was an asset to our cause. She gave the ultimate sacrifice and will not be forgotten. Those words seem cold when I think of the lovely women who took time from her life to come and bring a bit of home to the soldiers fighting this hellish war.

If the Saratoga and the Eisenhower are ever within hailing distance, I’d be honored if you’d let me buy you a drink in the memory of a fine woman who loved you very much. She had instructed me to say ‘hello’ to you, if I were to run into you, and I’ve got a recording you might want to have. She sent it to me because she thought I needed a heart. It was kind of her, but in my case, it would be a duty hazard rather than a help. Her music should go to you, since you’re the person behind all of it. She sang for you and to you every time she preformed.


Lt. Col, TC McQueen

Ty folded the letter and reached over to turn off the music. The song that had been playing had been about a woman who would always walk alone, until the man she loved was there to walk beside her. It made him hurt for Alex Robertson, because if he cared about his wife half as much as she cared about him, he’d be walking alone for a long time.

A few months later, the night troops are left behind on Demios

McQueen had taken a bottle of scotch and headed for his alcove. His insides were in pieces. The 58th was stranded on Demios, along with 20,000 Earth Force troops. The planet that was controlled by the Chigs, and while the fleet headed away, to a choicer enemy target, the men and women on planet were fighting for their lives with no hope of support or evacuation anytime soon.


“Are you going to be all right?”

Both the Colonel and the Doctor were exhausted. It had been a long day and they knew that it might be months before things got any better, if ever.

“I’m as well as can be expected.” They had spoken earlier in the Mess Hall, but this was the first time they’d talked alone since they’d fought in Commodore Ross’s office a week before. The war was getting to her and he didn’t like it. “Come here.” He reached for her and held on tight. It felt so good to hold her small slim body close to his. The rose scent that was always part of her, drifted around him. It relaxed and excited him, just as the woman in his arms had been doing since he first met her.

Jen ran her hands up and down his back. She’d realized she was in love with him the night before he’d gone to Kazbek. Letting him hold her was a guilty pleasure that she couldn’t resist. “What are you doing up here all alone?” She whispered into the front of his black flightsuit, as she pulled back slightly, knowing that she’d only be hurt if she let herself pretend that he cared, too.

“I just finished going through the names on Ross’s list from the Eisenhower.” The huge carrier had been destroyed hours earlier. The nurse who worked closely with Jen, Joan Brill, had lost a daughter on that ship.

“Did you have a friend aboard?”

“Not exactly.” They sat and McQueen pour himself a glass of scotch and told her the story of Gillian and Alex Robertson. “I’m here to have that drink that I would’ve had with Commander Robertson if he’d lived.” He raised his glass in a salute and stared out the view port. In his minds eye, he could almost see the debris left from the huge space carrier.

“Well I guess he didn’t have so long too wait, after all.” Tears filled Jen’s eyes as she thought of the couple together.

“No he didn’t.” Ty put his arm around her and handed her his scotch as he’d been doing for years. But tonight, instead of just smelling it as she usually did, she took a sip and nodded toward the stars in a gesture of respect.

He took back his glass and deep blue eyes met tear filled gray ones. He’d held her as she cried once before in the alcove, but tonight was different. Tonight there was something soft and sweet and very tender about her. He understood that, for the moment, he was able to keep the hellish war between them, but the time was coming when even the horrors of all the death and dying wouldn’t be able to do that. Until then, they’d hold on to each other like they always had, in the name of friendship, after all, he was sure she didn’t see him as anything else, so what could it hurt?


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