Disclaimer: The characters Shane Vansen, Col. McQueen and the rest of the 58th do not belong to me, unfortunately. They are the property of James Wong and Glen Morgan. I borrow them lovingly but without permission, and I intend no infringements on any copyrights.

Crisis Of Faith



Of all the Wildcards, Shane Vansen knew their CO best. As captain, it was her responsibility to report to Lt. Colonel TC McQueen after missions, to collaborate with him in writing the after action reports. Though McQueen had a unique and special relationship with each of his 'kids,' and though they never veered from business in the instances when they were together, Vansen felt she was closer to the Colonel than any of the 58th. They shared, to a degree, the responsibility of command, they both knew the pain of that responsibility, the pain of ordering friends into situations that could quite possibly hurt or kill them. It had created a silent, unspoken bond between them.

It was this sense of comradeship with McQueen that gave Shane the courage to approach him about his recent foul mood. The past week and a half, their Colonel had been icier than usual, had given the Wildcards dressing downs when, before, he would merely have made some comment. Rather than be angry about it, though, the Cards had shown their love, their devotion to McQueen by being concerned about their CO. Something was obviously wrong with him, something that had nothing to do with the war, or the Corps. Vansen, after promptings from her fellow Cards, had decided to speak to him about it. She had her doubts about whether he'd open up to her or not, but Shane couldn't simply sit by and watch her Colonel suffer in silent anguish. She cared about him too much for that. Whether she was overstepping the unspoken boundaries McQueen put up around himself or not would remain to be seen. His reaction to her approach would tell her that.

For a moment, the young Captain hesitated in the hallway, staring at the nameplate on the door before her. Col. TC McQueen. He was in there, behind that door. Hurting? Her will restored, Vansen banged firmly on the door.
"Who's at my hatch?" came McQueen's response. He sounded annoyed, but it was too late to draw out now.
"Sir, its Captain Vansen, sir!"

A moment later, the door opened, and she saw the Colonel standing before her, wearing only fatigues and a tanktop. He looked down at her, curiosity warring with irritation.

"Can I help you, Captain?" he inquired, and the man's voice was chilly, more so than usual. Vansen paused only a moment, determinedly refusing to let him intimidate her into leaving.

"May I come in, Colonel?"

For a long moment, McQueen's cold-as-ice blue eyes bore into her, inspecting her silently. His expression and stance revealed nothing of his thoughts, but Vansen had grown used to that. McQueen was generally unreadable most of the time, but she was gradually learning to pick up on the subtlest signs that most missed. Shane feared he was going to refuse her, for he had no doubt figured out that she was here for a personal reason, not a military one. Then he merely shrugged, feigning indifference, and stepped back to let her in. One of her shoulders brushed his chest as Vansen entered, and the woman stood at attention several feet away, while the Colonel closed his door. Turning, he crossed his arms over his well-muscled chest and glared at her.

"What's this about, Vansen?"

Shane hesitated only a moment, then plunged right in. "We are concerned about you, Colonel."


The softness of his voice did not hide its slightly mocking overtone, and Vansen bristled, which had been his intention. He was already on the offensive, determined to put her in her place and get her out of his cabin before she got too close to the problem.

"The Wildcards, sir. Your squadron," and she responded with a taunting sarcasm too subtle to give him cause to reprimand her. He merely nodded, but the flash in his blue eyes told her the barbed tone had not gone unnoticed by him. "The 58th have noticed the Colonel's unusual mood over the past week, and..." Vansen paused. And what? Wanted to help? McQueen would not accept their assistance. Wanted to know why? He would refuse to tell even her.

"Ahh," and McQueen smiled tightly, a small, grim quirk of his lips. He turned and walked over to the porthole, picking up a glass of whiskey he'd evidently been drinking before she'd interrupted him, and taking a sip. The Colonel stared out the viewport into the void. "And, Vansen?"

"And would request to know when the Colonel will get himself back together," Vansen snapped before she'd thought the sentence through, irritated by his mocking. Oh damn, Shane thought. That was dumb, Vansen. Real dumb.

McQueen turned slowly, eyes flashing blue flames as he stared at her. Shane drew herself up, preparing herself for the severe dressing down she knew she was about to receive, knew she probably deserved. But it didn't come. After a moment, McQueen merely shook his head at her, the apathy that had become so common in him over the past week, settling back into his eyes.

"The Colonel will have to get back to you on that one, Vansen, when he knows himself," was all he said.

Shane was confused. These mood swings, from anger to apathy, frightened her. It wasn't like McQueen. Usually he was so in-control of himself. Now he was losing it, even if only she recognised it. Even the rest of the Cards had no idea what was going on, no idea of the depth of his pain. But Vansen glimpsed it there, in his momentarily unguarded eyes, before he turned away and downed the last of his whiskey.

"Sir?" she asked, letting her voice express the confused inquiry she wasn't certain how else to voice. McQueen turned away, turned his back on her again, and filled another glass of whiskey. He held up the bottle to her.

"Wanna glass?"

Her eyes widened. It wasn't the invitation to drink that startled her, but rather, what it implied. He was inviting her to stay here with him, to share the intimacy of conversation.

"Uh... sure," the Captain replied. She took the glass he poured and stared thoughtfully for a moment at the amber liquid. For whatever whimsy that had prompted McQueen to offerthis encouragement, she was grateful. Her respect for the Colonel was overshone only by her devotion to him, as with all the Cards, and his misery had concerned her. She took a sip of the whisky to bolster her courage and gasped as it scalded her throat on the way down. "Potent stuff," she managed to croak, before regaining control of her vocal chords.

McQueen gave a chuckle and took a drink from his own glass. "It is, indeed, Vansen." He sighed, returning the glass to the table beside him and glaring once more out the window. Vansen came to stand beside him.

"You want to know why I've been so pissed off lately. You want to help."

It was not a question, but Shane murmurred a soft affirmative anyway.

At this, the Colonel turned around, watching her a while. Another mood swing; she saw it even before he spoke. The anger, the cold was back. "Your assistance is not required," he remarked, taking refuge in the coldness.

"Perhaps not, but it is offered."

McQueen stared at her intently, and Shane withstood his inspection stoically. He searched her face, seeking a reason behind her visit. Ty was unused to people caring for him, and it always bemused him a little when they did things from love alone, put him on the defensive because he didn't trust it. But Shane Vansen stared back at him, her honesty and her concern written bluntly in her soft features, and he sighed. If he did not trust her, who could he trust? In that instant, the anger faded again, impassiveness returned. Shane shivered delicately. What was wrong with him?

"You deserve an apology, at the very least, for my actions towards you," McQueen murmurred. Here, the Marine Colonel hesitated, frowning. "I took some of my anger out on you. I'll apologize personally to the rest of the 58th."

Vansen scowled. "Sir, we don't want an apology! We want to know what's wrong!" His unexpected softness was encouraging, and she took a risk. "We want to know how to help you."

"You can't, Vansen."

His voice touched her, so defeated, so lost, so ... alone. He sounded almost sad, as if he'd given up on happiness forever. Before she was quite aware of what she was doing, Shane was reacting to impulse and stepping closer to him, touching his arm. She retained enough sense to be cautious.

"How can you be so sure, Colonel? We're your family, we want to know what's wrong."

Shane watched as his gaze slid from her to something over her shoulder. She turned and followed it, focussing on the picture of himself in dress blues (and smiling! Smiling?!) and a woman in white. It did not take much intelligence to realize it was a wedding photo. She'd known McQueen had been married a while, known he'd gotten divorced, though she knew nothing of the reasons behind it. Vansen gestured with a jerk of her head at the photo. "Her?"

"My ex wife."

Vansen nodded, keeping her hand on his arm, using the tactile contact to encourage this recalcitrant man, who looked so much like a little lost boy. The Colonel she knew would have hated for her to see this weakness, and Shane was desperate to bring her McQueen back to the surface. He wasn't defeated, he wasn't alone. She had to make him see that.

"She remarried last week."

Ahhh, she thought, but outwardly Vansen merely nodded. She sensed McQueen was at a loss as to how to continue and rescued him, deftly turning the conversation into a more personal vein at the same time. "Were you aware she was going to?"

The Colonel shook his head. "No. I was not."

Vansen watched him thoughtfully a moment. "Sir - Lt. Winslow told me a little about your wife. Mostly only that you divorced because of racism towards In Vitro's and your inability to father children without artificial assistance."

The surprise glittered in his eyes only for a moment before he nodded. "Yes. Carol wanted children very much, but in the end she couldn't handle how people reacted to me." He corrected himself with a small, bitter smile. "How natural borns reacted to me."

Shane scowled. "Society has always needed a scapegate, someone to subjugate, someone to suppress. A century ago it was African-Americans. Now its In Vitro's." Her voice was hard and cold as she twisted the glass in her hands around and around, staring at the amber liquid it held.

"You're quite right, Vansen. And one day, no doubt, In Vitro's will gain equality, and be seen as a part of the human race." Here he stopped suddenly, glancing down at the small woman beside him. "But I doubt I'll live to see it."

Vansen took another cautious sip of the whisky. "Do you still love her?" she asked bluntly. The Colonel gave her a startled look, but recovered swiftly.

"No. I don't. But I find myself remembering our life together. Any jealousy I may feel is not because Carol has remarried but because she has found happiness. Our marriage was never really...." Ty stopped and shrugged one shoulder casually. "We were never really happy, though we may have thought we were at the time."

"Help me understand, Colonel, so I can help you. You feel -" Vansen hesitated, then plunged in. "Alone?"

"Empty," he corrected. "Maybe a little lost. What are we doing all this for? What's the point, really?" McQueen mused, his voice calm and soft. "What's the point to pleasure, to happiness? What's the point to this whole damned war? In a millenia all signs of this war will be erased; given enough time, all signs of humanity will be erased. What's the point?" he asked again, a soft voice in the dark, calling out for help, for faith, for something to believe in, to fight for. And Shane understood. As a Marine, he would follow orders. As a Marine, he was expected to believe in The Cause. As a person, he no longer could. His time of confusion and faithlessness was undermining the Marine.

"We fight because there are people to defend," Vansen replied quietly. "We fight because we are alive now, because no matter what happens in however many millenium, we're here now! We have to enjoy the present, because the future is undecided, either good or bad, it doesn't matter. The past is gone, memories are just like trying to hold onto a dream. You can't do it, it'll fade in time. I learnt this from trying to remember my mother and father." The woman paused, the pain shining brightly through her gaze before she remembered where she was and drew herself up. "The present is all that matters, right here, right now. We fight so that what we have now, our safety, our freedom, will be there in the future. To some degree."

It was a pretty enough speech, but Shane was no longer speaking only for McQueen. Something in her needed to speak this words, for herself as much as for him. She lifted her head and saw the Colonel watching her with that intense expression that had so disconcerted her in their early acquaintance.

"You really believe that?" he asked softly.

Shane didn't answer immediately, lost in thought. Then she nodded. "Yes, I guess I do. My parents died defending us, because they loved us. I believe that if they'd thought the present didn't matter, because it would be occluded, swallowed, consumed by the future, they wouldn't have cared. Love is the basis of my faith, like it is with Nathan, for Kylen. If we love, then we have to care about now, because the object of that love is as subject to the present as we are."

McQueen straightened, looking out into the empty void of space, as though seeking something from its cold impassiveness. "I have never known love."

Shane moved her hand from his arm to where his strong, sensitive fingers rested on the porthole, and covered them with her own. "Yes, you have, Colonel," she corrected him gently. "We, the 58th, we love you."

She saw his eyes were shining but whether from the reflection of the stars or some other reason, Shane could not tell. He twisted his hand so it held hers tightly. "You do?" he asked with quiet need. Shane squeezed his hands tightly, her instinctive compassion rising so she stepped closer to him.

"Very much, Colonel," she whispered, no longer certain they were just talking about the Wildcards. But he didn't say anything about it, merely looked down at her. Had she ever though his blue eyes cold? Hard? Impassive? They shone now with pleasure, gratitude, were warm with love.

"Thank you, Shane."

She couldn't help but smile. "We'll always love you, Colonel. And we'll always need you. You're like our father."

He touched her hair briefly, hesitantly, and Shane was reminded of Cooper's initial attempts at reaching out and touching the rest of the Wildcard's, his initial overtures of friendship. So unused to human touch, were In Vitro's. As Shane had done with Cooper on some occassions, she leant against McQueen's chest, wrapping her arms around his waist. She felt his hesitation, his confusion, before he tentatively put his hands lightly around her. There was no sexual tension in the act, it was merely the gesture of one friend trying to comfort another. But the love inherent in the action touched Tyrus, and his throat closed up. What a fool he had been. Grieving over a happiness, a love he thought he could never know, never feel? When all along this burning sensation he felt for his Wildcards, this fear each time they went into combat, this emotion that so confused him was the love he so desperately needed? His family, his children, his beloved friends. And he'd never realized that was what he felt for them. McQueen squeezed Shane's small body gently, trying to thank her in that gesture when he could not do so in words.

"We'll always be here for you," was all she said.

Warmth on his cheek alerted him that he was crying, but Tyrus didn't care. He held Shane tighter to him, and was very very glad that she'd come to him today. Grateful that she had taken him and forced him to see the truth.

He had a family now. The Wildcards were his, but, more importantly, he was theirs.

The End

© Jeitiiea

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