Did you ever wonder how Ross and McQueen first met? Here's my take on it; see what you think. My apologies to the military out there. My ignorance of proper military procedure is total; if I offend, it is absolutely unintentional.

Paula Higgins

Ross sat at a table in the back of the bar and sipped at his rum. He kept a careful eye on the door, waiting for McQueen to appear. The moment he saw him, he smiled and waved the young In Vitro over to a seat. "You look a lot better than the last time I saw you - in that POW camp," Ross joked. McQueen gave him one of his half-smiles and said, "I'm supposed to heal quick - it's part of my programming." Ross just shook his head and asked, "What are you drinking?" McQueen replied that he'd have whatever it was that Ross was having, so Glen smiled at the waitress (who came scurrying over double-quick at the sight of that charming grin) and asked for another rum for his friend.

Out of the corner of his eye, Ross saw the look on McQueen's face at being referred to in such a fashion. Too many bad things had happened to this man during his short lifetime - he was finding it very difficult to believe that Ross' caring and concern were genuine. Ross had adopted a rather proprietary air where McQueen was concerned; he was determined to make sure that the young'uns path through life was a lot less bumpy in the future. Perhaps it was just Ross' Amerind heritage coming out. Tradition held that if you saved a life, you were responsible for all that was affected by that life. Ross also remembered the old Chinese proverb - that saving a man's life meant that afterwards his life belonged to you. Same difference - both customs decreed that it was impossible to simply walk away from your actions. And Ross had definitely saved McQueen's life - it was doubtful that Ty could have survived the A.I.'s hospitality for much longer.

It was at that moment that both men heard the slurred voice behind them. "Hey, look guys. It's a tank. Let's have some fun!" McQueen froze; this was an attitude he was much more familiar with. It wasn't easy to endure, but, at the moment, he couldn't summon the energy to fight back. Maybe if he just ignored him, the drunk would lose interest and go away. Ross, on the other hand, looked upon the incident in a whole other light. His quick temper flaring, he decided he would be damned if he'd just sit there and listen to this. He stood up and leaned over the man in question. "You're drunk, sailor. I'd advise you to go and sleep it off. McQueen is my friend, and I don't approve of my friends being harassed in this manner." At these words, Ross laid a gentle hand on Ty's shoulder, and, as if his touch had healing powers, Glen felt the tense muscles relax.

Unfortunately, the man was not only drunk, but belligerent as well. He'd fight with anybody in this condition. He aimed his fist at Ross' jaw - only the jaw was no longer there, and the drunk found himself flying through the air. McQueen jumped up, enraged that someone had tried to rearrange Ross' face. When the poor drunk tried groggily to sit up, he saw BOTH of them coming straight for him. He might have been belligerent, and he was certainly drunk - but he wasn't stupid. He prudently crawled under the table and passed out.

However, there were other men and women in the room who were more than willing to take up the cause. They had been trained to fight, and they loved the opportunity to test their skills. They were very, very good at what they did. Before you could say "Irish Wake," a regular donnybrook had started, and a grand time was had by all. Chairs and fists quickly became weapons, and even more bodies went flying through the air. The bartender did not approve of the fun, however; he preferred a quiet, more peaceful sort of place, so he promptly headed for the phone and summoned the Shore Patrol.

McQueen was the first to hear the faint sounds from outside as the jeeps pulled up. He banged his opponent on the side of the head so that he could extract his hand from the man's mouth. The fella had been trying to bite his finger off - it was McQueen's trigger finger, and he was rather fond of it. He looked around and spotted Ross in the corner. He knew Glen was happy by the huge grin on his face - and by the fact that the man he was pounding on was the belligerent drunk. Ross wanted to make sure that the man would never - EVER - say anything derogatory about tanks again.

McQueen limped over (he'd had a run-in with a chair leg), put his hand on Ross' shoulder to get his attention, and promptly ducked as Ross swung around fist-first. Ty managed to gasp out, "S.P.'s" and then shoved Ross toward the nearest window. They tumbled out and tried to move silently down the alleyway, attempting unsuccessfully to stifle their laughter. Ross dragged McQueen to his quarters so they could clean up and make themselves presentable.

"Ouch, that stings."

"Don't be such a baby. I want to make sure you don't get gangrene from this bite. No telling what sorts of bacteria that man was harboring in his mouth," Ross said as he finished slathering mercurochrome on McQueen's hand. "All that exercise has made me hungry. Let's find something to eat." Ross threw his arm over Ty's shoulder and headed for the door. He decided that making friends with McQueen was rather like trying to make friends with a junkyard dog. Snarly, mean-tempered and suspicious. Been kicked in the head one too many times. But still ... well worth the effort. A friend you could trust to watch your back was a friend worth keeping. And this one was most definitely a 'keeper.'

The End

The third book of this series is also avaliable at this site.

Next : Man's Inhumanity

Paula Higgins
© 1996