Exiting the bitter Denver night, Chris walked into Mickey's with his jaw set and deep blue eye shining with fury. The earlier blonde spikes had become ruffled and gave the soldier a worn down look. Despite the exhaustion coursing through his bones, every muscle felt taut and ready to strike. Nervous energy started to surge through Chris's body as everything started to slam into his memory banks at once. The betrayal of his fiancée, his arrival in Denver, the recent ambush's he suffered through before leaving Iraq, and walking into the one building that held so many memories for him and his extended family. With emotion threatening to boil over Chris stalked through the pulsing crowd and threw himself into a barstool locking eyes with Maverick who looked back with confusion and concern.

"Mav! Jack and Coke!" Chris pulled out his pack of cigarettes and placed them on the bar. Fiddling with his lighter the jack and coke appeared in front of him as the flame lit the cancer stick and forced Chris to inhale deeply and attempt to slow his pumping heart. Staring at the dark drink in front of him Chris was soon aware of the large frame shadowing it from the other side of the bar.

"Later, I need to be drunk first." Chris muttered. Mav placed his hands on his hips as his brow furrowed together. Letting out a snort of frustration Mav leaned in close, "Alright, you win this round. But don't think your off by any means, Katherine, Joshua, Michelle, Leah, David, and Rome are all going to be arriving sometime around ten or so. That means you have about two hours to drink it up before you have to deal with them."

Chris knew the implied threat that hovered in the undertone of Maverick's voice. Chris gave a half hearted laugh before drinking till he was letting the ice rest on his lips, fruitlessly attempting to gather every last drop of liquor. Giving up, Chris let the glass drop mercilessly back onto the wooden bar where he signaled to Maverick for another round. Maverick rolled his eyes and went to making another drink, Chris watching in drunken amusement or interest as Maverick fumed silently to himself. Had it been years earlier, Chris would have been dragged over the bar and been near tortured until he gave up the information. Yet married life adjusted your priorities it seemed, 'Thank god, I dodged that bullet then.' The thought flowed bitterly through the drunken subconscious and made Chris remember why exactly he was drinking so fast again. Maverick stalked back over with the ordered drink in hand, the never ending brown orbs locked onto the glaring blue spheres. Maverick knew something was seriously wrong with his best friend, unfortunately Chris and Maverick both knew that work came first and Maverick couldn't do anything until his boss allowed him to.

"Just promise me this brother, stay in control." Maverick leaned across the bar to keep the conversation as private as possible. Taking another deep drag Chris answered while letting the smoke escape his mouth, "I'm not sure I want to anymore." Chris pulled out his keys and wallet and handed them over to his friend. Maverick nodded toward Chris and continued to serve the growing crowd around the bar.

: 96 minutes later:

Glasses, ten glasses, lined the bar in front of Chris shaped into a small formation. Chris let a goofy drunken grin dance on his face involuntarily as he looked down on his handiwork. Perfect. The events that had started off his leave had faded away into gray and drunken bliss became Chris, he loved it. Maverick had become consumed by the Saturday night crowd and paid just enough attention to Chris to refill his drink or empty out the ashtray while jumping from point to point around the bar. The blue eyed drunk smashed the remains of the latest cigarette roughly into the battle scared ashtray and swiveled himself around till he was facing out toward the crowd and took a moment to let his drunken tunnel vision spread outward. Once his eyes focused and his mind cleared out a bit the music and the rowdy party around him came into focus. Droves of college students chattered and laughed with each other while enjoying their drinks and the warm atmosphere of the bar.

Chris soon got bored with the activities surrounding him and swung his body around till he was facing yet another drink. Grinning Chris tried to grab the drink, yet his level of intoxication made it a difficult task finally Chris settled on using both hands to wrangle in the slippery glass. Satisfaction easily filled his mind as he started to finish off the drink laid in front of him. Slamming it down Chris let out a whoop of satisfaction and started to take another long drag off his cigarette. Inhaling deep, Chris felt something heavy slam into his frame and cause him to drop his cigarette and cause the cloud of smoke in his lungs to roughly force its way out.

Coughing and gasping for clean air, Chris fought to regain control of his inebriated body and mind. Staring in front of him Chris saw a depressing sight, his glass formation knocked askew and his poor defenseless cigarette sitting, not even halfway burned, in a small puddle off melted ice. Chris looked over to the point of impact sight and stared at some bleach blonde college punk leaned over the bar with a crowd behind him. The punk was shouting something unintelligible over towards Maverick's general area but that wasn't important to Chris. Why would he care what this idiot had to say? This idiot just committed a crime in Chris's drunken mind; you never spill someone's drink or abuse cigarettes in such a foul manner. Chris's internal dialogue cried party foul as he maneuvered his body around to face the main offender to the crime.

"Mav! Mav! Hey big order here man!" The punk was excited about something, Chris noted to himself as he shook the cobwebs from his head and proceeded to smack the center of Chris's drunken attention span on the back off the shoulder.

"Hey man, what's up? Can I help you?" The punk's light brown eye regarded Chris's drunken demeanor with a cocky arrogant grin, obviously oblivious to the severe crime he committed. The soldier blinked and rubbed his temples while forcing a smile upon his irritated features.

"An apology would be a nice start." Chris couldn't tell if he was slurring, sure would be nice to know if he sounded like an idiot while trying to sound moderately important.

"Apology? What for?" The punk turned his body and leveled his gaze on Chris. Both men stood roughly the same height, regarding each other.

"Well besides bowling me over like a jackass, you spilled my drink and made me lose my cigarette. I'd say, on normal levels of human conversational skills, that it requires an apology to attempt to smooth out the situation at hand." Chris let his intoxication fill him with smug arrogance. Sure not very soldier like, but fuck, he was human too.

"Well what if I don't feel like apologizing? Why don't you quit being a cry baby and fucking get over yourself. "Chris's irritation turned to indignation which quickly transferred to anger.

Just as he felt his body tense up again something forced their way in-between the building argument, "Hey Zach! What's going on the holdup baby?" Vibrant red hair bounced into Chris's range of vision and forced him to break the stare down. The punk broke eye contact also and shifted his attention over to the feminine voice.

"Zach, what's taking so long? Come on were supposed to be celebrating here!" matching the vibrant red mane, dazzling green eyes caught Chris's vision as both men's attention's were diverted.

"Gabrielle, I thought I told you to wait at the table with the guys." Zach's voice wavered slightly giving away his irritation.

"Well I don't want to wait with them; they're a bunch of asshole when drunk anyway." Gabrielle's voice shot through his clouded mind and made his a bit more aware of his surroundings. Gabrielle's pixie like features were matched with her fire engine red hair cut in a flared out shoulder length cut Chris couldn't name if he wanted to. She had a white button down shirt with a tan coats covering her body with some smart looking khaki's finishing off the outfit. Chris let his eyes roam up her body till his vision rose above the smaller girl and met with Zach's scowl.

"Gabby just goes sit your ass down! I'm ordering the drinks as we fucking speak!" Zach's rough command made the red head jump slightly before glancing around and catching Chris's unsteady gaze. Chris's already tense body tightened a bit more as Zach watched his female companion turn on her heel sharply and force her way through the crowd. Chris didn't necessarily appreciate the mistreatment of women, then again, he was kind of an asshole himself earlier…bitch deserved it.

"Hey yeah! Maverick, give us a couple pitchers of Bud and a round of tequila." Maverick had made his way over to the action and took the order before throwing his drunken friend a long glance before dashing off to prepare the order.

"Listen…guy. I don't have time for this nonsense about you and your drinks and cigarette or whatever. Here's twenty dollars." Emphasizing the point Zach threw a crumpled bill onto the bar next to Chris, "Keep the change buy yourself a pack of smokes and a fifteen dollar shot for all I care. Maverick! Yeah I'll be at the table bro!" Zach backed away from the bar holding Chris's narrowed glare before maneuvering through the crowd over to his table.

Chris turned back to the bar and stared at the crumpled green bill in front of him and contemplated what to do with it. Using with was always a popular option, twenty gets you pretty drunk or it could buy a good few packs of smokes. On the other hand it's like taking a buyout…total garbage in Chris's opinion. Pondering his options, Chris lit a new cigarette and leaned into the bar. After taking a few drags a sharp thought passed through his foggy memory banks, 'That asshole didn't give me an apology! Son of a-' a familiar voice burst into Chris's internal rant.

Feeling a shadow come over him Chris looked up to see Maverick placing the tray of drinks on the bar and scan the bar, "Hey Chris! Where did that blonde haired kid go? Seriously did that idiot go sit back down? How many times do I have to tell him that if he wants to have his drinks delivered to his table then he can just wave over a waitress. Now I have to find him and-" Maverick stopped to Chris raising his hand.

"I can take it Maverick. He owes me something anyway." Chris ended the sentence with a sneer as he grabbed the tray of drinks and carefully navigated his way through the room. Maverick shouted his disapproval but Chris was intent on his goal and quick m maneuvered away from the bar into the thick of the crowd

Halfway to his destination Chris started to wobble a bit and his vision wavered, 'Ok so this was a dumb idea I'm drunk as a loon and i'm trying to act tough with a tray of drinks. If I could facepalm right now I would' Chris shook the thought out of his head as her approached the blonde haired jerk's group.

"Thinking about it, I can't say I'm surprised you here with my drinks. I-" Zack was quickly cut off by Chris, "Apology, you gave me the money and the jackass attitude. All I wanted in fact was an apology. So…Yeah how bout it chief?" Chris returned the disgusted look he was receiving. Zach sat with his group where all eyes were on the confrontation before them.

"Funny I thought the money would finish this little problem. Alright fine here, " Zach pulled out another group of bills and threw them at Chris, "Now get the fuck away from me. You're starting to get on my nerves." Chris let his eyes sway off target for a moment and fall onto the red head seated next to the jackass. The girls eyes were darting back and forth trying to decide what to do. Obviously she was having a hard time on whose side she should take. The drunken guy with the drinks or the asshole she was with.

Chris looked back at the jackass in front of him and the entire night flooded his thoughts. Feeling the anger bubble up again Chris started shake with anger while glaring at Zach who looked ready to spring up himself. Chris closed his eyes and took a deep breath in to calm himself; unfortunately he received his second significant bump of the night sending the tray and its contents aright into the blonde idiots lap.

Chris almost couldn't react in time. The table got knocked over, glasses flew, Five (Chris just started paying attention to his surrounding) angry individuals including Zach jumped up and went for Chris. Protests from the red head's voice were quelled by the surrounding spectators as Chris reached out and braced himself against five rather large individuals crashing into him at once.

Chris didn't even bother trying to make any significant swings in retaliation, in a five on one bull rush…well your fucked. Chris felt his body get pushed back and blows landing in various spots on his torso and head. Chris did what he could to block the oncoming blow, then again two arms and two legs comparative to ten arms and ten legs. Feeling his equilibrium rock by a particularly vicious fist to the temple, Chris staggered back only to feel himself fall onto a table or barstool and roll off it and land with his back on the floor. Trying to pick himself up to his feet Chris heard someone guiding the group above him. Before he could fully scramble to his feet he felt someone grab him by the back of the neck and his arm and toss him into one of the many emergency exits that dotted the building. The force at which Chris hit the door swung it open quickly causing him to spill out into the alleyway. Chris kept his balance amazingly and attempted to make distance between him and the group of angry behemoths. Staggering out through the frigid night Chris made it within twenty feet of the street before feeling something breaking and feeling glass dance and clatter around his head and body. The last shot made the soldier tumble forward and fall face down onto the snow covered concrete.

"Don't feel big and bad now do you asshole?" Chris couldn't tell where Zach voice came from but he knew he was in a spot. Chris started to push himself up off the ground but was forced back into the snow with a rough feeling boot in his back. "Are those hiking boots or what? Fuckin hurt!" Chris spat into the snow. The answer to his comment was a swift kick to the ribs. Chris coughed roughly as he let the kick roll him onto his back.

"Yeah, keep it up asshole. I'll make you life real uncomfortable just give me a moment." Zach called out to Chris, then Chris heard rummaging behind his head as a few more cheap shots accompanied the ragged breathing of his aggressors. "Oh Yeah what do you think Preston? Oh this is perfect. Just wait pain is in your future!"

"Can't wait, jackass." Chris gasped out. The alcohol in his system kept the pain mostly at bay, didn't change the fact that it was getting harder to breathe. Rolling onto his hands and knees, Chris tried to get to his feet.

Whack.

"Oh Fuck you clobbered him Zach!"

"Damn!"

"Holy Shit that board fucking exploded!"

"Damn Man"

Chris laid face down on the ground again letting the dull throb remind him he was conscious still. Feeling the warm flow of blood, Chris decided to just lay on the ground and take the beating.

"Well Gentlemen, let finish this, got a big night ahead of-" Zach was cut off as a door slammed open and feet pounded out the door. Chris tried to look up to see what was happening but decided he didn't much care anyway.

"Zachary! What the hell are you doing?!" Gabrielle's voice sounded first followed quickly by a familiar feminine voice, "What the fuck is this shit? I'll fucking pound your head through your shoulders myself you self serving dick fuck!" Chris then heard a Maverick's rough voice follow, "I'd back off cause if Kat here jumps in, I'll be forced to back her up and I don't want to hurt anyone." Chris started to pull himself upward until a couple sets of hands grabbed under his arms and hoisted him to his feet. Chris tried to stand on his own but he felt himself held up by maverick's huge frame.

"Alright man we're done here. Gabrielle, let's go home," Zach and his crew started walking but Gabrielle stood just staring after them. Zach took note of the lack of movement and turn back to her wiping some snow off his face, "Ok then, why aren't you following me, baby?"The harsh emphasis could be understood by everyone in the alley.

Gabrielle started to speak by was cut off by Chris pushing off Maverick's larger frame. "Ok, obviously, one of two things is happening here," Chris clutched his ribs tightly and tried not to wince while breathing in, "One, the red-head is deaf and missed the sign language, or the more probable of the two would be that she doesn't want to go with some wussy." Zach swelled up and started back towards Chris. Chris was ready for it this time and didn't give a chance for another cheap shot and dealt one of his own first.

Crunch.

Zach stumbled and dropped to a knee in front off his friend's who started in before Maverick's oversized body stepped up flanking Chris's injured frame. "Just go." Chris turned his head to see David Meadows grim features walk into view his dull green eyes stared through his thick brown locks that hung over his dark features.

"Oh…..hey man." Chris said towards David who just kept his eerie gaze locked on Zach and his four goons.

"Still causing problems I see." It wasn't a question, it was a clear statement.

"Well you know me." Sarcasm slurred out of Chris's mouth with ease.

"Some days I wish I didn't" David's quiet tone didn't betray his sarcasm.

"Yeah…actually I don't have much of a comeback for that." Chris returned his attention the fuming Zach who wiped away the continuous stream of blood from his nose off his chin.

Maverick looked from Zach to Chris and shook his head, "Alright asshole, that's you blondie, go somewhere else...and you jackass, Chris that would be you, get inside and go to the back with David and Katherine. I'll handle damage control because lord knows someone called the cops by now." On the note Maverick grabbed Chris's arm and dragged him inside the crowded bar.

Zach growled and wiped the blood off his face again as he started taking steps forward but stopped short when David stepped into his path, "You have already ruined my night. Go away before your nose is the least of your problems."

With blood dripping off his chin, Zach looked from David to Katherine to Gabrielle before gritting his teeth and walking away cursing and muttering the entire way out to the street, kicking a couple garbage cans for good measure.

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