Disclaimer: Purcell, Kuslits, Doc Hock, Griner, McKay, Johnson, Ruiz, Taylor, Anderson, and Goldman are not mine.  The rest are.

Summary:  Finally!  Alternate Universe Tour Of Duty is here!!  Here's the scoop: Kuslits never died and so Doc Hock is still friends with everyone, Griner's not blind, McKay's not shot, Johnson is still gone and Ruiz left for "The World", but Purcell stayed on for another tour and just got transferred to a new platoon.  This is Purcell's story of his new squad.  Mostly new characters, that is why I am also putting this in original "history" fiction on fictionpress… because of all the original characters.



Purcell sighed and closed his eyes briefly when he heard the door to the hootch open and a crowd of complaining men enter.  He shifted his legs on his bunk until he was half-laying down, his legs sprawled out behind him and his elbows supporting his upper self.  An open magazine lay on his pillow, the content forgotten as he opened his eyes, his face bent downward to make it look like he was concentrating on the pages in front of him, and peeked at the noisy guys from the corner of his eyes.

There were four guys, all covered in sweat, dust and mud, and all in desperate need of a shower.  Two of them were fighting, hurling opinions and insults back and forth, and looking as if they wanted to hurl objects and fists as well.  One of them was black, tall, skinny, hair cut short to the head and dark brown eyes.  The other was white, with blond hair and deep blue eyes, not short and not tall.  He was the loudest, and the meanest looking.

Another guy was trying to get in between the two who were fighting.  He was also tall and white, with fiery red hair and blazing hazel eyes.  He had a broad forehead and square jaw, and he had this kind of look upon his face like nothing could ruffle his feathers, or make him lose his cool.  Except maybe the two fighting men in front of him.  He was holding each at arm's length, the peacemaker.

The last guy was the shortest, just a little shorter then Purcell, and had brown hair and brown eyes and a small goatee.  He payed no attention to the other guys, looking straight ahead when he entered the hootch and walking straight to his bunk, which was just across from Purcell's.  He didn't notice Purcell, however, as his gaze never wavered from his bunk, and he lay down upon it, boots and all, never saying a word to anyone.

Purcell's attention drifted back to the fighting guys, and it seemed like the redhead was finally getting things under control.  He lowered his eyes to the magazine, but concentrated on the conversation.

"Man, that is the last time I ever listen to you.  You nearly got us killed!  Punk."  That was the black guy.

"It wouldn't have happened if you had just listened to the Sarge's orders in the first place!  And you were the one who sneezed!  So what are you doing puttin' the blame on me?  It was all YOUR fault!!  Jerk."  Blond guy.

"I wouldn't have sneezed if you didn't lead us to that stinkin' place.  And if I recall you didn't hear the Sarge either."  Black guy.


"Would y'all please just settle down?  It's over now and yer both still 'live.  And kickin'.  Just put it behind ya.  Arguing aint gonna change nothin'."  That was the redhead, smooth as could be.  "And lookie o'er there.  We got ourselves a newbie!"

Purcell's eyes widened slightly as he realized that he had been noticed for the first time.  He took a deep breath, and as calmly and casually as he could, turned a page in the magazine, seemingly uninterested in the other men.  He noticed with a grimace that the hootch was silent and all eyes were on him, including the quiet guy's, now sitting up on his bunk.  He could just envision the other guys' evil grins slowly spreading across their faces.  He heard footsteps approaching and looked up when the three guys sat on his bunk.

Blond guy: "Well, well, well.  What do we have here?  A cherry!  How nice!"

Black: *grunts* "Yeah, and another white one, at that.  Just what we need…"

Red: "Oh, cheer up, guy.  I'm sure he won't last long."

Black: "Yeah, probably be gone by the end of the week like ol' Bill.  Poor Bill.  Got shot up real good, he did."

Blond: "Uh-huh.  He was a newbie too.  Looked just like you, cherry.  Got shot up so much his body was beyond recognition.  Those VC are mean folk.  Show no mercy."

Black: "Yup, and they especially hate white guys, like you, cherry!"

Red: "White guys with dirty blond hair, just like yours.  Oh oh, this is not good.  Sorry to say it but the VC are really gonna hate you, newbie.  You won't last long, I'm afraid."

Black: "You'll be dead by tomorrow."

Blond: "Such a tragedy."

Red: "But no point in being all blue 'bout it.  Enjoy life, while you still have it!"

Purcell knew what they were doing.  He and Griner did it to the newbie's in his squad a while back…his old squad.  They were trying to scare him.  Purcell let them play their game for a while, then cleared his throat and said as off-handedly as he could, "My name's Purcell, and I'm not a newbie.  This is my second tour."

Silence fell over the hootch as all jaws dropped open in disbelief and all eyes widened slightly.  For a long while they stayed that way, none knowing what to say.  After a while, Purcell noticed that the three guys now looked at him with a kind of respect, knowing he had been through all and more then they had and he had survived.  But the fourth guy, the guy with the goatee, who never said a word yet, looked at him in disbelief, surprise, and a little horror.  He was probably wondering about Purcell's sanity.  Purcell was wondering about it too.

Oddly, it was the silent guy with the goatee who broke the silence.  The words came out in a hushed whisper, "Oh my gosh…Why?"

At this, Purcell looked down, unable to meet any guy's curious gaze as a lone tear slid down his check, as he remembered what he would never forget, a painful memory that forced him to do the unthinkable.