Caryl reunion continues.
Bottled Sunshine: Beer
Duck Soup: An easy task
Give It the Deep Six: Forget it; keep it a secret
"Why didn't Ezekiel want to come with us?" Carol asked Morgan as they headed out to his sedan in the parking area in front of the club. She and Tara had spent last night as guests in his home at the start of their week long leave from the USS Hope. Today the ship bringing Master Sergeant Paul Monroe back to Hawaii was due to dock at Pearl Harbor and they were heading into town to meet it.
"He had some other business to take care of." Morgan said with a bland vagueness that immediately made Carol suspicious.
"What is it? I would've thought wild horses couldn't have kept him from meeting Paul's ship." Carol pressed. She looked ahead to the cars where Tara stood quietly arguing with Tobin, who was frowning, his arms crossed in front of him, as he watched them approach.
"He doesn't like the Seabee." Morgan admitted in a low voice, slowing his steps to a standstill.
"Tobin?" Carol's brows went together in confusion. He had shown up last night at Oz with a few of his fellow engineers, curious about where Carol, Tara and Olivia had gone after leaving the ship. He was the only one who had stayed past the first drag act, and then it was obvious he was only there for Carol, staying glued to her side and trying to ignore the rest of the rather wild surroundings in which he'd found himself. When he heard they would be heading down to the dock to meet Monroe's ship today he had asked if he could tag along and no one could think of a reason to refuse him.
"To quote my brother, he's a boring beige tree who has the hots for another guy's woman, which makes him a dick." Morgan said fighting the smile that hovered around his lips.
"I thought Zeke didn't like me." Carol gave him a quizzical look. "Why should he care?"
"Monroe told him just what's what before he left." Morgan explained, "Ezekiel knows all about your Daryl and he was charmed to hear of your love story. He's actually a very sweet guy under all the crazy."
Carol smiled, absently twisting the small silver and shell ring she wore on her left hand as soon as Morgan said Daryl's name. She had it down to the hour and minute when she'd be back in Atlanta, back on the farm, home with the man she loved.
"Huh—yeah, I know that look—I get that same look on my face when I talk about my Jenny and lil' Duane." Morgan grinned and looped his arm through hers to steer her towards the waiting car. "That's a love stuck look if I ever did see one."
Carol blushed and ducked her head shyly. She knew she couldn't ever hope to hide her feelings about Daryl from her friends. It shone out from her. Even Tobin had to see it.
"I hope you get to meet him someday, all of you." she said wistfully. The odds she and Daryl could ever afford the passage back here to paradise were slim to none, but it would make the perfect honeymoon destination.
"You never know, Carol." Morgan mused thoughtfully, "You never know."
The traffic going into Pearl was terrible—in addition to Monroe's ship another three were also coming into harbor today making the already hectic pace of the huge military docks even more frantic. Tobin and Morgan worked almost like linebackers, helping Carol and Tara to push through the unruly crowd to reach the edge of the dock so they could have a view of the skiffs ferrying men and materials off the three huge transport and supply craft in the bay. They had brought flower leis made by one of the waitresses at the Club with them, enjoying the tradition that Paul had introduced them to when they'd arrived the first time.
"Did Olivia get going for her date on time?" Tobin asked, just to make conversation while they waited. The third nurse had been AWOL from their little group fairly often recently after meeting a rather unusual member of another Seabee squad that was stationed on the Hope.
"She most certainly did." Tara said with satisfaction. "Duck soup."
"Guess there's somebody for everybody..." Tobin shrugged, pulling a face. "Damn guy can do calculations in his head takes me a slide-rule to even attempt."
"Eugene is... unique..." Morgan ventured.
"Special." Carol added more kindly, making them all smile. "And he's so sweet to Olivia you have to like him."
After despairing over ever finding someone, Olivia had met Eugene in the ship's mess when they had both reached for the same bar of chocolate. They'd been practically inseparable ever since.
"Carol?" Tara asked, realizing that her friend's attention had been captured by the arrival of one of the skiffs from the docked ships.
Carol reached over and grabbed hold of Tara's arm, her other hand going to her mouth.
"Carol? Is it your friend?" Tobin asked with concern as she swayed on her feet, but before he could reach for her she was moving, pulling away from Tara and launching herself into the arms of a tall Marine who'd caught her in midstride as he tossed away his ditty bag and pulled the cover off his head. Laughing, he swung her around and then kissed her soundly before even setting her down on her feet.
"Oh my God, oh my God!" Carol cried as he grinned down at her, "What are you doing here?"
"Hello sweetheart." Daryl said in a soft voice brimming with emotion, unable to resist kissing her again, her forehead, both cheeks and eyes and then her lips, slowly and gently, holding her face in his hands.
Carol sighed and leaned into him resting her hands on his chest, feeling his body's heat all the way through his uniform. He looked much the same as he had the night they met, though he had an odd white line at his neck, showing that his hair had been shorn shorter after its tan had been earned by long days working in the hot Georgia sun. Her hands rose delicately to his nape, smiling as she felt the fresh stubble under her fingers.
"This must be your Daryl." Morgan said smoothly when the intimate moment went on, Carol and Daryl's attention so focused on one another they'd forgotten they weren't alone.
Coming back to themselves they moved slightly apart, but his hand found hers, his thumb rubbing over her ring and that hint of a smile at the side of his mouth stayed on his face as he turned to meet Carol's friends.
"And you must be Morgan. Master Sergeant Monroe said you'd be escorting Carol here today. Thank you." Daryl said, courteously holding out his hand, which Morgan shook firmly.
"Real pleasure to finally meet you, young man." Morgan replied, flashing Tara and then Carol a quick grin.
"You knew!" Carol accused them both and then laughed at their smug faces.
"It gets better." Tara said, and then thrust her chin out at Daryl, "Tell her why you're back in uniform."
"I been wondering that myself." a curious new voice piped up. Tobin was looking at Daryl with a single raised eyebrow.
"Oh—I'm sorry—Daryl this is our friend, Sergeant Tobin Maguire." Carol said apologetically.
"The Seabee." Daryl said, just the slightest hesitation before extending his hand to shake not lost on the other man as they both sized each other up.
"That's right." Tobin said, looking Daryl up and down, settling his critical gaze on the many ribbons that covered his uniform breast, including the special insignia for the Medal of Honor that few men could claim. "I thought you slid out a hero after your big White House photo op."
Daryl's left eye narrowed even as he gave a close mouth smile, aware of the implied slight. He'd won the nation's highest military honor and Maguire had just reduced it to a publicity stunt.
"Reactivated and temporarily attached to the Naval Inspector General Corps., special duty assignment running weapons inventory on the USS Hope and its escort fleet." Daryl recited.
"The Hope?" Carol squeaked, tugging on Daryl's hand to turn him back towards him, her mouth coming open. "Daryl!" and then she was hugging him again.
Looking over her shoulder Daryl met Tara's eyes, nodding in acknowledgement of her silently mouthed, "Thank you."
Morgan looked pointedly at Tobin, whose sour expression revealed at once how he felt about this latest development. As the Seabees' eyes met his, Jones gave him a narrow eyed look of warning.
"That asshole Captain still giving her scut duty?" Daryl asked Tara as they sat across from one another at one of the picnic tables set up on the beach, watching Carol talking to Morgan's wife Jenny while she held her baby, Duane. He felt his heart skip a beat at how happy she looked even through her sadness. And she was overwhelmingly sad... even through her joy at his arrival he sensed that the same disposition he'd felt when they first met had taken her over again, she was in mourning, looking back instead of forward. Whatever had happened on Saipan had deeply affected her, down to her soul.
"Anderson? Yes, he is, as often as he can get away with it. Head ward nurse rotates through three women on the three shifts—if it's Lerner she goes along with whatever the Captain says."
"So about a third of the time she gets the worst of the worst in duty." Daryl grumbled. He knew how the chain of command worked.
"That's about the size of it." Tara nodded. "But it's only part of the problem..." her gaze settled on Tobin who was staring broodingly at Carol and nursing a beer while leaning against one of the beach palms near the shoreline.
"He sure enough is a big son of a bitch." Daryl said appraisingly, as if measuring the other man's reach for a prize fight.
"He does care about her you know." Tara said a bit grudgingly, "It's obvious they went through something together..."
"She still giving it the deep six?"
"She's not telling me, but I'm not you..." Tara smiled knowingly, "And now that you're here, I'd say you have some means I don't to get to the truth."
Daryl blinked at her and rubbed at his non-existent chin whiskers, unsure if that was a dick reference.
Tara winked at him.
Daryl blew out a snort at her.
"You're a dilly aren't you?" he said, leaning back with a laugh and then standing so he could bend down and plant a fond kiss on her cheek. "Thanks for having her back."
"Always." Tara smiled, "Now go get our girl."
"First things first." Daryl shook his head and headed down the beach.
"Not sure that's such a good idea..." Ezekiel said to his brother as he watched Daryl making his way toward Tobin.
"Has to happen," Morgan said calmly. "We'll stop it if it gets out of hand." He looked over at Jenny who hadn't yet noticed Daryl's movement, but saw that Carol was tracking him with quick side-eyed concerned glances even as she carried on their conversation. She made no move to stop him though, so Ezekiel took his cue from her as well as Morgan; watching and waiting.
Tobin straightened while simultaneously draining the last of his beer and tossing the empty bottle down to the base of the tree where it clinked against three others. Pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket he tapped them on the palm of his opposite hand and offered Daryl one of the two that came out of the top opening.
Daryl waved him off and Tobin lifted the pack to his own mouth and put one of the cigarettes between his lips. Daryl pulled out a silver lighter and held the flame up, shielding it from the wind and Tobin leaned in to light his smoke and then put the foil pack away. Daryl snapped the lighter shut and restored it to his pocket.
"It's over." Daryl said, looking out to the waves rolling onto the shore, high breakers roughing up crests of foam.
"Yeah?" Tobin asked flatly, blowing out a smoke trail. "What's that?"
"You. Her." Daryl intoned, matching the lack of affect.
"You think I've been screwing your girl." Tobin smirked, looking pleased and a little pie-eyed, tapping the ash off down to the cherry and taking another long drag.
"I think you want to, and you've been using what happened on Saipan to get close enough to her to try." Daryl said.
Since that pretty much hit the nail on the head Tobin ignored it, exhaling the smoke right into Daryl's face.
"She trushts me." he said instead. "I been here for her."
"I'm here now." Daryl returned, not moving a muscle.
"We have a bond; what we went through." Tobin asserted, taking a step forwards and using his cigarette to point at Daryl's chest.
"I'm here now." Daryl repeated. "Whatever happened, happened and I'm here for her."
"She didn't write you 'bout it?" Tobin asked with a small smirk on his broad face as he looked over where Carol sat, now holding the small boy who reached up chubby fingers to try capturing the curls that had escaped from her upswept do. "What makeshu think she's gonna tell you now?"
Daryl just stared at him stoically.
"Face it, jarhead, you're too late." Tobin said smugly, tapping out his cigarette against the trunk of the tree and flicking the butt away. "I'm what she needs now."
"I'll let her be the one to tell me that." Daryl said dismissively, "Until then, let's get you a ride to take you back to wherever you're bunking."
"I can drive... drove a base Jeep out here." the other man said belligerently, pointing a meaty fist towards the parking lot and swaying.
"You're a big man, Sergeant, but that's quite a few empties of bottled sunshine at your feet." Daryl said, reaching down to pick one up and upending it to pour out a few leftover golden drops. He reached out his other hand to take Tobin's arm, trying to steady him.
"Be fine—get off me!" Tobin said as he stumbled back, racking his back and head against the tree.
Carol leapt to her feet, handing the baby back to his mother and started running towards the two men. Morgan and Ezekiel were right on her heels, almost but not quite outpacing her with their longer strides, reaching the tree just as Tobin recovered enough to take a swing at Daryl.
"No!" Carol cried, unfortunately distracting Daryl enough that he didn't see the Seabee's fist in time to duck, taking a hard blow to his jaw as he turned his head in her direction.
"Damn it." Morgan muttered, watching Daryl stagger from the blow, but come up in a fighter's stance, fists raised. Maguire may have had a good eight inches of reach on him, but Daryl was fighting for Carol, and he wasn't about to lose.
Three quick jabs to the midsection doubled Tobin over and an upper cut to the chin finished him off, toppling like the big plastered tree he was.
"Daryl!" Carol murmured in dismay, hands on hips, looking down at the unconscious Seabee.
"He started it." Daryl said, rubbing his sore jaw with his sore hand and trying to look pitiful, almost pouting.
Carol knelt to check Tobin's pulse; finding it strong and steady she sighed and stood. Without a word she turned and headed back up the beach.
"We'll get him back to the club office—there's a couch in there where he can sleep it off." Morgan said, motioning to Ezekiel and Daryl to help.
"Just leave him there," Ezekiel disagreed, crossing his arms, his mouth turned down in disgust.
"He could aspirate." Daryl said with a reluctant huff, knowing Carol would be upset if the man choked to death on his own vomit. "Let's get him up."
"Your friend is fine." Daryl told Carol as he came into the bedroom of the small guest bungalow that she, Olivia and Tara had been sharing. She nodded at him and held out an ice bag that Jenny had brought over from the main house.
Looking wary Daryl took it from her. He noticed that she had hung the sweet smelling floral garland she'd given him at the docks along with several others over the rungs of the brass head board and the effect was to lend the look of a bower to the room.
"If you're going to yell at me, can it wait until morning?" he asked, holding the ice to his jaw.
"I'm not going to yell at you." Carol told him, her face placid with a hint of a patient smile playing at the sides of her mouth.
"We need to talk." Daryl said quietly, sitting down next to her on the bed.
"I haven't seen my husband in months. Talk comes later... much later..."she said, smiling and reaching up and loosening his neck tie.
"Sweetheart... stop." Daryl moved his free hand up to close over hers, his concern for her emotional state overriding his need for her.
"I'm not angry with you—Tobin—I've never seen him drink that much—he was out of line and you did what you had to." Carol blinked at him, frowning in confusion.
"This isn't about the Seabee, well, maybe indirectly... it's about what you went through... when you met on that island." Daryl told her, "Saipan."
Carol closed her eyes and winced.
"What did they do to you there?" he asked softly.
"To me? Nothing." Carol said, her voice slow and sad.
Daryl raised her hand to his lips for a comforting kiss and felt how much it was shaking.
"You're not good though, are you?" he asked, pulling away enough so he could look directly at her.
"No." her lower lip trembling as she gazed at him with wide sad eyes.
"Com'ere." he murmured, and engulfed her in his embrace.
AN: Hopefully in this version Daryl will be more successful at getting Carol to open up about what is troubling her. Thanks for reading!