Summary: Colonel Smith is looking for a new Supply Officer but even the Lieutenant who he picks is unsure that Hannibal has made the best choice!
Warnings/Content: Contains male/male relationship non consensual, not graphic but the intent is certainly there, also some full-bodied soldier type language.
Author's Notes: One off story (unless of course, somebody wants some more) that just came to me on a long journey and demanded to be written
Disclaimer: I do not own the A-Team characters and am making no profit from this story, which is a work of fan fiction only.
THE COLONEL'S BOY
"O! I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial."
Othello, 2. 2
Templeton Peck signed with irritation and threw his legs over the side of his bed carefully avoiding the damp patch that still stained the sheet following his earlier activities. He should shower – he felt dirty and tainted but he knew from bitter experience that simple water would never be enough to clean away his shame. A sharp pain shot through him but he ignored it as he had learnt to do. His body was in a constant state of hurt following the abuse he was regularly subjected to but dwelling on it did him no good, so he set his concentration elsewhere.
It was hot, suffocatingly so and the buzz from insects who seemed to be having one hell of a party just outside his room conspired to make sleeping too difficult.
"Shit!" Peck whispered as he rubbed at his eyes and giving up the battle, stretched for the packet of cigarettes beside his bed. "Who are you trying to kid?" he muttered as he lit the smoke and groaning, staggered on weak legs to the door of his quarters. The sound of the insect party was magnified as he opened the door, but he bit back the second curse that threatened to escape him.
It wasn't the heat or the insects; they were there every night and Peck normally had no difficulty in sleeping. It was the conversation with Colonel Smith he had had that afternoon and more specifically the proposition Smith had given him. That was what stopped Peck from finding the release of sleep as he played the Colonel's words around his head endlessly.
He closed his eyes and pictured the scene……………….
"I haven't asked you here to talk about my cigar supply, Lieutenant, although I am grateful for your efforts, of course." Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith regarded the soldier who stood uncomfortably coiled at attention before him.
So young! Hannibal thought as he fiddled with the wrapping of his latest cigar, never taking his eyes off the man. And yet the kid was no different from hundreds of other ambitious, smart junior officers in this army, all eager to climb selfishly over the man beside them, all attuned and so desperate for triumph that they did not care what they did to succeed. All of them drunk and seduced by the mere dregs of power they had already tasted, desperate for more.
"How old are you, soldier?" Smith asked.
"Twenty four, Sir!" The response came back without the hint of delay, barked in true Marine fashion.
Hannibal shook his head slowly. "Lieutenant, you're off duty, I'm off duty, we're in the Officer's Club, let's be a little less formal, OK?"
There was a visible gulp as those blue eyes moved from the spot on the wall they had been regarding, down to focus on the superior officer before them. "Yes… Sir."
Hannibal smiled at the slightly uneasy hint to the voice. "Take a seat, soldier." He indicated the chair across the table from him and watched as the Lieutenant sat down somewhat stiffly. The kid was holding his curiosity in, Smith could tell. The wily Colonel had a good idea of the thoughts whirring in his mind; he wanted to ask what this was all about, no doubt he suspected, his mind having been running over all the possibilities since Smith had invited him to this meeting in Potter's office the day before. Smith could guess what he thought this was all about, but the kid was wisely keeping quiet, waiting for more information. Smith noted the glint of expectation in the eyes and the lick of the lips in anticipation, just once and then the kid forced himself to relax. The Colonel saw the veil come down over those intelligent eyes, and the bland expression that followed it. Ever played poker, kid? Smith wanted to ask but he thought better of it, knew the answer already – of course he had. Smith knew his type; was sure that Peck had experienced every sin in the book and excelled at most – poker was old hat for sure.
"How's the shoulder?" Smith asked.
The Lieutenant shrugged. "OK," he replied guardedly.
"You'll be back to combat soon, then?"
Smith noted the lick of the lips again and a nervous hand moving up to fiddle with the pristine tie at his neck. "That's up to Colonel Potter, Sir."
"Indeed it is." Smith popped the cigar into his mouth and moved his hand to his jacket to find his lighter. Immediately a Zippo appeared in front of him, flame flashing, matching the accommodating smile on the Lieutenant behind it. He was a cool customer this kid, knew all the right moves. Smirking, Smith bent in acceptance, lit his cigar and sat back taking a long draw. Enjoying the scene as the blond lieutenant sat in front of him, drawn tight with expectation but not allowing his impatience to show in any aspect of his being save for the fidgeting of his hands – from tie to hair to table and back again.
Finally Smith smiled. "Drink, Lieutenant?"
Peck cleared his throat nervously. "A beer, Sir," he ventured almost shyly.
Smith smiled. "Get yourself one and me another Jack Daniels." He pushed his empty glass across the table. "Put it on my tab."
Smith watched with interest as the kid moved to the bar. Noted the confident sureness in his walk, the immaculate cut of his uniform, the brilliant shine of his boots – oh yes, Peck appeared the complete soldier; young and handsome, he had obviously worked hard on his appearance; you wouldn't catch this one out at a surprise inspection. And yet Smith watched the reactions of the other officers in the bar – the knowing looks, the almost visible shrinking away and the dismissive shaking of a few heads. His fellow officers looked at the young Lieutenant and looked away, not impressed. Even Lucky, the bald barman known for his easy going personality regarded Peck with a look of distrust and something more, Smith hesitated to name it but it sure could be interpreted as disgust.
Peck ignored all of the reactions as if he did not see them, seemingly impervious as he smiled blandly at the barman and ordered, his eyes moving to rest appreciatively on a table occupied by three nurses further into the room.
The Colonel sat back into his seat again, his eyes flashing at the scene and missing nothing, while his mind analysed the facts. It was worse than he had thought – there was a distinct atmosphere of hostility centred on the young Lieutenant. Gossip on a base like this spread like wildfire and it would appear that everyone knew the kid's secret. That in itself was not a shock – Colonel Potter had a reputation that was never openly discussed but was common knowledge and Peck fit the requirements perfectly – blond, slim, young and good looking. Smith recalled his earlier thought as he recognized that the kid was no where near as angelic as his looks suggested.
The Colonel let out a long sigh. He was a career soldier; he knew the way of the world, had seen such sordid little arrangements before, even sat on the sidelines and watched as potentially accomplished army careers were destroyed and lives shattered. Power corrupts; though it was a cliché it was true, Smith knew from painful experience and determined he would not watch impotently again. Something about this kid…………..
Peck turned, drinks in hand, his perfect features chiselled in concentration as he ignored all those questionable looks being shot his way, Smith was hit anew by the beauty of this boy. A knot of intense lust slithered deep down in his guts like a treacherous serpent coiling to attack. Smith smothered it down easily but nevertheless its very existence caused him to re-evaluate his current actions.
What the hell was he doing here? Stepping on Potter's turf for no apparent reason except the fact that he could not stand the lecherous old bastard! There was something about this kid!
But what was is exactly? Sure he came in nice packaging but there were hundreds of others just as good looking, just as willing….. so why had the Colonel come here, what was it that drew him to this boy like a moth to the flame?
"Sir," Peck hesitatingly passed the whiskey to the Colonel and perched uncomfortably on the edge of his chair once more. He placed his beer on the table in front of him but never made a move to drink any. Those wonderfully expressive blue eyes looked up expectantly.
Smith took a long draw on his cigar. "You're not twenty four," he finally said, challengingly.
Peck's mouth quirked into a slightly uneven smile. "It's what my file says, Sir," he replied confidently although his eyes moved away from Smith's intense stare.
"I know," revealed the Colonel. "I've read it."
Peck allowed his eyebrows to rise a little. "And why would you want to do that, Sir?"
Smith's smile was wide. "Professional interest," he disclosed. "I've lost my Supply Officer."
Peck nodded. "I was sorry to hear about Lieutenant Crispin, Sir." The smile became more mysterious. "I thought he would make the grade."
Smith snorted, not willing to be drawn into a conversation about the failings of his recently transferred away second in command and finding himself irritated by the knowing glint in Peck's eye.
Seemingly unperturbed the Lieutenant continued. "So what can I help you with, Sir?" As he spoke his hand reached out and long, slender, girlish fingers began to caress the previously untouched beer bottle in front of him.
Smith felt his mouth go dry as an intense longing swept through him. Feelings long ago extinguished and consigned to the very depths of the Colonel's memory rushed forwards. Jesus; this kid was dangerous! He wondered if Potter had any idea about the viper he clutched to his breast! With a shudder, Smith surmised that Potter was so blinded by his own lust he would never recognise the vitality and verve of the venom in his Lieutenant.
Peck was eying him expectantly but the Colonel was too wise and experienced to surrender his control of the situation, however pushy this youngster proved to be. So he simply smiled and continued his smoke. "Drink your beer, Lieutenant," he said chummily. "I don't want anything from you, just a friendly chat."
"A friendly chat?" Peck could not disguise the disappointment in his voice. "I thought……."
"What did you think?" Smith effortlessly moved on to the attack, leaning forward a little in his seat. The kid may be cocky but he wasn't as good at masking his emotion as he should be. Kid needed to work on that if he was going to fulfil his promise.
Peck smiled again. "I thought I could help you with something," he responded meekly. Then with more force and his eyes already drifting towards the door, he continued, "I don't mean to sound rude, Sir and I'm grateful that you should take an interest in me but if you have nothing to … em…… offer me, I really must be going. I'm a busy man."
"Scams to run, deals to make….." Hannibal's smile was wide, his eyes twinkling with mischief as he prepared to deliver the telling blow. "Commanding Officers to screw, eh, Colonel's boy?"
Peck's smile froze on his face and he let out a nervous almost feral growl. Smith eyed him, picking up the minute changes of expression as the emotion ran across the young soldier's features – disbelief, guilt, anger… Yeah, kid definitely had to work on his control – he was revealing too much. Smith saw it all and the final cockiness that triumphed as Peck stood up, chair scraping across the wooden floor. "If that's all you've got to…"
"Sit down, Lieutenant!" Smith's voice was biting with authority, causing Peck's head to jerk up. "You're making a show of yourself and you really don't want to do that, do you?"
Peck hesitated. Tongue running over luscious lips again and Smith could almost hear the argument that raged in his head. Finally with a disgruntled snort, the blond slumped back down in the chair.
"That's better," Smith said. "I knew you'd see it my way, kid," he smiled.
Peck's face was flushed with indignant anger. "I don't see…" he began again.
Smith raised his hand as he cut across him. "You've got a smart mouth, Lieutenant. It's gonna get you in trouble unless you learn to control it. Now shut up and listen!"
"But I. …"
"That's an order, Lieutenant!" Peck fidgeted in his chair and his hand went up to run nervously through his hair – which was too long, Hannibal noted, but that was usual for one of Potter's boys – the old pervert liked them that way. To his credit Peck managed to control his tongue and said nothing else but his eyes clearly revealed his discomfort.
Smith took a last draw on his cigar, then slowly and with great purpose stubbed it out. He raised his eyes to stare at the youngster before him. "You ever think about the future, kid?"
Peck gulped, shook his head as if he didn't trust his voice to speak. His earlier confidence had drained away and he looked like a chastised school boy.
The Colonel chuckled appreciatively – even that look was cute on this kid. "No, I don't expect you do," he said. "You're young and hungry and eager – what do you care about tomorrow, next week, next year? I never did either but there comes a time when it is important. When you suddenly realise that what you are, how you conduct yourself is important cos when you're gone it's all you'll leave behind. Your reputation, kid, it's valuable." He looked around the bar. "There're a lot of guys here that have been tempted just like you but they have chosen to rise above it, because there is a better way. Do you know what they think about you? Do you feel their eyes burning into your back?"
"I don't give a damn about them, what they think!" Peck spat. He was beginning to shake.
Smith was shocked but not surprised by the sheer vitriol in Peck's voice. "I'm sure you don't but maybe its time you started to care, Templeton. Maybe that's what you can do for me."
Peck ignored the intimacy of the Colonel addressing him by his first name. "You think I have a choice on this?" His eyes were painfully wide with the hint of moisture. The controlled and restrained officer of minutes before was, Peck was fighting to retain even a trace of his earlier composure.
"You always have a choice, Lieutenant," Smith responded impassively, ignoring the wave of sympathy that splashed through him.
"That's easy for you to say, Colonel!" Again the tone of his voice was acidic.
"I wasn't always a Colonel, kid. Not so long ago I was in the same place you are."
Peck sighed, ran his hands through his hair. "But of course you did not succumb; you overcame, whereas my feeble attempts are destined to fail because I lack moral fibre. You looked up my records. You must have seen it. I was born to be a whore! Spare me, Colonel – I've heard this all before, many times!"
"What I read in your file up until a few months ago at least, was very complementary – you're a good soldier and that, coupled with what I have learnt about you in the dealings I have had, tells me you have potential. I've been in Nam for a long time, nobody sources cigars like you! It's a talent, kid!"
"And that's it! That's my potential – a goddamn tobacconist?" Peck shook his head in disgust.
Smith waited for a heart beat before continuing, "Oh I'm sure you could screw your way as far as you want – Potter only picks boys with talent as well as looks, he's real particular, I know - but you said earlier that you have no choice. Well kid, I'm offering you that choice."
"Me? Why?" Despite himself Peck was leaning forward, his breaths coming in short, sharp noisy gasps.
"You got potential."
"Think about it." Hannibal kept his voice firm, his eyes never leaving the petulant soul in front of him.
"Think about what?"
"Potter or me."
"Potter or you! In what way Colonel? Do you want to screw me? Do you want me to be Colonel Smith's boy?" Peck's voice was unrestrained and gaining in volume as his eyes flashed wildly. "Has Colonel Potter told you how willing, how responsive I am? Has he described in graphic detail, no doubt, the good time I could give you? What a pretty, skilled, insatiable little whore I am?"
"I am talking about you returning to combat, being the soldier you were trained to be, putting your obvious talent and aptitude where it belongs best. You can be part of my Team." The Colonel's expression was unreadable, his voice firm and guarded; a complete contrast to that of the younger man before him.
"Part of your Team!" Peck snorted with no humour, his anger evident in the way his whole body seemed to shudder. "I don't believe you Colonel. I met your Team, they know me, remember. I've seen it in their eyes, I've seen the way they look at me, like something they wiped off their boots - they know what I am. They will never accept me. Never!"
"My Team will accept what I tell them to accept, Lieutenant but if you want that as an excuse then have it." Smith allowed no emotion into his voice although he could not help but be moved by the simmering fury of the man before him. It, more than anything else, made him believe he had made the correct decision, however deep he hid it, Peck was obviously affected by his current circumstances. Now Smith knew he had to press home his point. "Slink back to Potter, be what he wants you to be; do that but you will have to find a way to live with the hunger that burns deep inside of you – it won't be satisfied by what you have here. If all you wanted was to be someone's bitch you could have stayed in LA and lived a pampered, worthless existence. The need that drove you to enlist way too young, that brought you here, that pushed you through boot camp, that turned you into a half good soldier, that drove you to your Green Beret; it will never be satiated by Potter or any man like him. You're better than that and I can take the anger that burns in you and temper it, mould it into something you can be proud of. I can give you a reason to get up in the morning. I can ensure that you dare look at yourself in the mirror but most of all I can make it so that when you walk in a place like this, other men, your fellow officers, look at you with respect and even envy. You wouldn't have to hide behind your anger anymore or feel the heat of their revulsion burning into your back."
Peck snorted but fixed the Colonel with his questioning stare. "What about girls?" he asked.
Peck nodded. "Have you tried trying to chat up some skirt when you're the Colonel's boy? Man is it hard work!"
Smith chuckled wryly. "You can have all the girls you want, Peck, although obviously you'll have to sweet talk them yourself."
"No fear," Peck breathed, casting a longing glance over his shoulder to where the nurses still sat. His hand shot out and he took a long gulp of the warmed beer.
"Do I have an answer, Lieutenant?"
"What, you think I'm easy or something?" Peck's smile was simply stunning as he relaxed. "I have to think about this."
"What's to think about?"
"Apart from the fact that I'll be giving up a relatively safe desk job and its creature comforts to haul my ass through the stinking jungle chasing Charley!" Peck spat prickily once more, shaking his head slowly.
"You're a soldier, Peck, although you don't want to believe it, you were born to haul your ass through the stinking jungle chasing Charley! And I can help you with that!"
Peck snorted ruefully. "I'm sure you can Sir, only I'm not sure I want your help." He stood up again, more slowly this time, more controlled. "I'll get back to you, Colonel."
Smith rolled his eyes. "Don't take your time, Lieutenant. My offer won't stay on the table forever."
Peck nodded slowly. "Appreciate it, Sir. I'll be in touch. Thanks for the beer."
The Colonel stared at the barely touched bottle. "You're welcome, kid."
"I'll have your cigars by the end of the week."
"I want your answer before then."
Peck nodded again.
"You need to work on your control, kid. You aren't gonna scam shit if you lose your poise as quickly as just now."
Peck hesitated, gulped down the sharp retort that had threatened to spill out and then snapped off a flawless salute, turned on his heel and left the OC, ignoring, as always, the antagonistically curious stares that followed his progress out of the bar.
Smith leant back into the chair and drew in a deep breath.
In the hot night Peck remembered his conversation of earlier in the day. 'Work on his control,' Smith had said. Colonel wasn't wrong for sure. He needed to keep it together, control his anger at the powerlessness of his situation and channel it into something useful. Control was something that Colonel Potter did not request for him – far from it. He snorted humourlessly.
The thought of the Colonel brought springing into his mind the memory of the shock he had felt the first time Colonel Potter had forced him down on to his knees. It wasn't that he was new to such activity, hell you didn't grow up the way he had, being swept from one Catholic orphanage to another, without at least a little knowledge of illicit carnal delights. If it wasn't the Fathers forcing the fear of God into you, it was the older kids ensuring that your physical body was at more risk than your eternal soul, at least for the time you were within their sights. And Peck had experienced more than most – being born with an attractive visage was as much a curse as a blessing. For though he learnt quickly that flashing his brilliant smile could bring him most things he wanted, it also brought along unwanted attention. So being forced to his knees in Potter's office as the Colonel fiddled with his zipper was by no means a new experience; it was, however, a shock. Peck had been in the army for over eighteen months by that point and had naively hoped he had left such smutty situations a long way behind. He should have known of course that anywhere you had a critical mass of men you were going to find some who had to exert their power over their brothers in whatever deviant way they saw fit. If it happened in the Catholic Church for all its professed virtue, of course it would be apparent in the aggressiveness that characterised the armed forces.
Up until that point the army had been good for Peck, surprisingly so for someone who had enlisted very much on the rebound. He had enthusiastically thrown himself into his training, passing everything with flying colours as he had in his school career before. For someone who had never considered the military as a career, he was surprised that he not only had an aptitude, he also enjoyed soldiering. He was posted to Nha Trang enthused, inspired and with a deep desire to succeed. He completed a couple of missions, earned himself praise from his Colonel and proved himself to be a useful and adept Second Lieutenant.
Yeah, Nam was bad of course, and in the jungle it was terrifying but Peck had coped with it. He had started a little sideline in supplying things, nothing much but it had brought him more contacts and he had hoped to increase his business, he had always been able to accumulate stuff – he figured it came with the smile.
And then it had all fallen apart – out on a mission he had taken a glancing shot to his shoulder – nothing dangerous or too painful but it had meant he had been assigned to desk duties in Da Nang. Peck had been frustrated and annoyed at his enforced transfer but he figured he could do with the R and R and use the time to pursue other activities including working on his growing procurement business. What he had not realised was that his posting brought him under the direct command of Colonel Potter – 'under' being the operative word!
The shocking demand for the first personal service during his very first meeting with the man, was quickly followed by more and then more physical and intimate requirements from his new Colonel which though making him feel completely violated, Peck succumbed to, of course. How could he not? Potter was his commanding officer; he made it quite clear that Peck's future career rested on his performance and his complete obedience – it was worse than anything the young man had suffered in the orphanages. He was completely powerless. And as if the physical abuse was not hard enough to endure what Potter's attentions brought with them was far worse.
Colonel Potter and his appetites were evidently well known to everyone in the camp. Peck found that his newfound friends and contacts drifted away as quickly as they arrived. The few that remained disappeared when it became evident that Peck could not now deliver all he had promised. His time was taken up by his commanding officer and Potter was not discreet about anything; the word soon got around that Peck was his boy.
Peck noticed it immediately of course, conversations stopped when he walked into the mess. There was sniggering and muttering and people moved away from him. Pieces of his kit disappeared mysteriously and his bed in the barracks was regularly trashed, constantly stinking of urine or worse. Potter reacted by giving Peck his own room which only served to alienate the other men more. The anonymous beatings started then. As trained Special Forces Peck could look after himself but not when he was set upon by ten men, or hauled out of the showers or the john, his arms tied painfully behind his back as the punches and kicks rained down on the Colonel's boy.
Peck took it all stoically, what else could he do? Who could he appeal to? He had asked twice for a transfer back to combat duties but the first time the MO had declared him still unfit and the second Potter had thrashed him with a horse crop until he was unconscious, spitting viciously at him, admonishing him for his lack of gratitude. Peck had not asked again. Instead he had learned to live with the shame and the embarrassment and the pain, all the time suppressing the rage within him that constantly screamed of how he needed to get away, that he was losing his edge, his reputation. That he would never be able to survive.
And now he had the opportunity. By rights he should have been begging Colonel Smith to take him and he was a little surprised by his own cautious reaction in the OC. But if this situation had taught him anything it was not to jump into further trouble in an effort to escape what he had proved he could endure.
As he stood in the shimmering heat of the Asian night, smoking his cigarette slowly he forced himself to consider that he may not be able to suffer what Smith was offering him. It was a hurtful but not altogether unrealistic suspicion.
Peck knew all about the Colonel's boys – their reputation preceded them in the same way that Peck's did him but that was where the similarities ceased. For Smith's boys were described by the very best of words, words that never now appeared in a sentence that included Peck's name. Jesus; they were even called the A Team! Ultimate top dogs! Elite soldiers, every last one of them. They would never stomach someone like Peck joining them.
The blond Lieutenant sighed, threw down his finished smoke and immediately wished for another one but stopped himself from going back into his room. He shivered although the night was far from chill, the heat still throbbing intensely in the air as Peck conjured up images of the members of the A Team he had already come across.
Sergeant BA Baracus – just the thought of the massively muscled, bad tempered black man who preferred to talk with his fists rather than his mouth had Peck shuddering again. He had met Baracus a few days before he got injured. The big guy had wanted a new part for some wrecked jeep he was tinkering with in the machine shop. Peck had agreed to deliver but for various reasons, chiefly his injury and then Potter, had been enable to fulfil the order. He had already used Baracus' money to fund another enterprise which too had gone belly up. Not surprisingly Peck had been keeping away from the big man as much as possible. The thought of being his team mate, of being respected as his superior officer made Peck's mouth go dry. He knew Baracus was more likely to rip him limb from limb rather than follow his orders.
Then there was Ray Brenner. Peck figured Smith would be planning to promote the gently spoken man to First Lieutenant now Crispin was gone, so that Peck could fit below him in the command structure. Brenner himself seemed like a nice guy but he was so straight; the safe pair of hands that made the best type of deputy; nothing startling or inspiring but simply solid. Brenner was a big buddy of Baracus, and when forced to chose between his friend or the new upstart lieutenant renowned for screwing his way to the top – Peck knew who he would chose.
Smith's Team always seemed to use the same pilot for most missions; tall, lanky, a kid not much older than Peck who talked with a Texan drawl. Peck recalled he had spent a night with him in the OC just after he had arrived in Da Nang. God, what was his name? He seemed OK and word on the wire was he was a shit hot pilot who had pulled his guys out of hot spots they had no business in surviving. Of course Peck had blown any friendship before it had truly started by hitting on the pretty blonde nurse that apparently the pilot had been working on for weeks. The pilot – shit what was his name? Mc-something, Scottish definitely – had stared at Peck as he left the OC arm in arm with the nurse his wide eyes dulled by betrayal. They had never spoken to each other since and now Peck couldn't even remember his name – only the hurt in his eye. He certainly couldn't expect any friendship there!
And then there was Colonel Smith – courageous, daring unorthodox. He seemed to get off on pissing off his superior officers – Colonel Potter hated him, regularly going in to loud and long cursing sessions about the infernal man. But Peck had liked what he had seen and heard and he made a point of using what little spare time he had to source good quality cigars for the Colonel with the twinkling blue eyes. Man got results, had carved out an excellent team and they were obviously the most important things in his world – how good must that make his soldiers feel? But Hannibal? Why Hannibal? Something about miracles and the Alps and elephants, if Peck remembered his history correctly. Well, why, if the man liked elephants was he suddenly turning his attention to the dirtiest rat in the whole damn camp?
Peck snorted, squeezing his hands into fists of ineffective rage. Why did the Colonel have to come now? Why couldn't he have come calling before? Why not when Peck had been newly presented with his Green Beret, when he was confident and carefree and clean? As sure of himself as any other soldier. Not now. Now Potter's stinking carcass had squeezed out his belief and his obnoxious bodily fluids had drowned all of Peck's hope. He could have done it then, he could have been part of the A Team but not now. Now he was a different being. He was soiled, damaged goods and no one should touch him.
He blinked his eyes, sniffing back his emotion. Control – yep, he needed to work on it. Surely it was better to walk away now without trying. Surely it was better to accept what he was rather than be proved ultimately undeserving of a place with the elite. Maybe Smith had only asked on a dare. Maybe they were all having a big laugh at the reaction they had caused in Potter's boy. Knowing he would never dare to reach out and take what they offered.
Peck scrubbed nervously at his face, wiping his hand across his eyes. He should give up, just walk away back into Potter's suffocating embrace, forget that he had ever had the chance to be a real soldier.
This time he couldn't quell the urge and slipped back into his quarters to return seconds later with his cigarettes. He sat on the step, lit another, and tasted the smoky relief. It wasn't in his nature. He couldn't walk away – that wasn't what he did. His childhood had shown him he was missing out on many things but it had also taught him that if he worked hard enough he could still attain those things he craved. Deep beneath the cynical conman he had become he still clung to the childish hope that he could make his dreams come true, he could find a place where he belonged.
As he closed his eyes a vision from his childhood slipped unbidden into his mind. He saw the freckled pale face, framed with unruly curls of ginger that belonged to Frederick Thomas, a boy Peck had shared a room with for a short period of time at Angel Guardians Orphanage. He was known to everyone as Red Fred for it was not only his hair that was red in hue, young Freddy's politics were slightly to the left of Karl Marx! Just how he had managed to garner such extreme views Peck never did find out but Thomas was clever enough to keep his most intensely un-American ideas quiet for most of the time.
Peck remembered fondly the lectures he had been forced to listen to about revolutions and Lenin and how the people should be given the power to decide their own fates. Peck had mostly got very bored but had picked up by osmosis as much communist doctrine as he needed to make a valid judgement – it was all bullshit! But one adventure he had shared with Freddy had taken him to an important moment in his life.
They had sneaked out of the Orphanage and made their way across town to Hollywood Boulevard on Oscar night, two world weary thirteen year olds, who nevertheless could not stop their eyes widening with the sheer enormity of the event. Freddy had bitched and grumbled about the excesses of the middle classes and how it would all change, come the revolution. Peck had gone along simply to ogle the starlets in their low cut dresses but what he had uncovered that night was something much more than eye strain.
He realised that a lot of what Freddy had said was true. It wasn't fair that he should have been born a way from such luxury. It wasn't right that he was pushed from one orphanage to another, wearing clothes handed down from older boys, desperately searching for something that these glamorous people seemed to have acquired with ease. He had made a decision that night – one day he would have what they had. It would take time and hard work but the star-struck boy knew he should be welcomed into this glittering world and if he tried hard enough he would get to be.
From that point he had started feeding his interest in such a world – the drinks they imbibed, the places they visited, the words they used and the clothes they wore. After that one night Templeton Peck had been inspired, he changed and focused on a concerted attempt to get to where he wanted to be. And that attempt had only faltered when Lesley Bectall had so inexplicably called off their engagement and disappeared. Reeling Peck had lied about his age and enlisted immediately but he had still managed to cling resolutely to his dream that he could find a place in the world of the wealthy and famous.
Young Freddy Thomas never really understood how he had contributed to the horrifying change in his friend. He could not contemplate that Peck having been exposed to such gratuitous exuberance as Oscar night, had not come to the same conclusion as he; that revolution was the only answer. He did know the day that Peck entered their bedroom wearing a brand new fifty dollar suit the handsome blond had somehow acquired, that he had lost his convert big time. Soon afterward Freddy moved orphanages leaving Peck with the promise that he would make it to Moscow within a year and Peck should look for him at the head of the invading Russian army! Peck had never missed the ginger haired kid, quickly diverting his attention from vaguely listening to inane revolutionary speeches to taking long walks around the orphanage garden pond with any pretty girl he could talk into accompanying him.
Pulled back to the present Peck wondered what Freddy would say now if he could see his one time friend enlisted in the American army and sent to Vietnam to kill communists. Maybe Freddy would maintain that the situation he found himself in with Potter was fair punishment for such inexcusable capitalist scumbag behaviour!
Peck blew out a lungful of smoke in an amused snort. "Guess you could be right too, Freddy!" he muttered. "Maybe we always get what we deserve and I deserve to end up as some old Colonel's boy!"
He stood up stiffly then, ignoring the pain that flashed through him and flicked his cigarette butt carefully into the bushes before him, hoping that at least one of those goddamn squealing insects would be scorched where it fell. He looked up; the sky was beginning to brighten in the east, shards of violent red reaching outwards from below the horizon.
He stretched and yawned. He should really get some sleep but still the arguments raged around his head. "What the hell," he muttered softly. He turned back towards his room and slowly
moved inside as he finished his musing. "Well if I'm gonna learn about control and be a Colonel's boy, better make sure I pick the right Colonel!"