A/N: This is not a companion piece for When I'm Dreaming.
Weaving Tangled Webs
Carter opened the barracks door, shivering. The fragrant aroma of stew filled the room and Carter smiled. LeBeau hadn't cooked for weeks and any sign of normality made his heart lift. LeBeau nodded to him as he ladled stew into a small covered pot. "Smells great," Carter said.
"Merci, Andre. It is for Newkirk. Our Kommandant put him on bread and water rations for the two weeks he is in the cooler."
"Oh." Carter twitched. "Does Major Cole know?"
LeBeau scowled. "He knows. He has said it serves Newkirk right." LeBeau added rolls to a basket. "Newkirk needs more than bread and water."
Carter bit his lip. "Major Cole isn't that bad, LeBeau. He just has to get used to Newkirk's ways."
"Huh." LeBeau stirred the large pot again. ""You can think that. I think he's a pig."
"He's just different," Carter said miserably. "He can't be Colonel Hogan."
"Oui, c'est impossible." LeBeau fussed with the stew.
"Can I take that to Newkirk?" Carter asked. "I mean, I want to talk to him anyway."
"Good luck with that," came a voice. Kinch scrambled up the ladder. "Newkirk talks all the time but says nothing."
"He hurts, too," LeBeau said.
"Yeah, he sure acts like it." Kinch rolled his eyes. LeBeau scowled.
"And Major Cole? His performance has been good, would you say?"
"He's trying. He did leave Newkirk in the lurch on that cooler deal, I agree. Probably got tired of Newkirk's attitude."
LeBeau frowned. "Cole has treated Newkirk more than poorly."
Carter took the pot and basket. "I'll take it." He didn't want to hear another argument about Major Cole. Major Cole was not Colonel Hogan, everyone knew that. But Major Cole was here and that was that. Carter carefully made his way down the ladder and to the cooler. There he paused and listened. No sounds so he carefully pushed the block.
Newkirk turned his head as Carter entered the cell. "Got you some food," Carter said brightly.
Newkirk shrugged. "Not really hungry. Thanks, though."
"LeBeau says you have to eat."
"LeBeau worries too much." Newkirk picked up the pot. "Smells great."
Carter shoved his hands in his pockets. Newkirk's uniform hung loosely on him, an indication of how much weight he'd lost since Colonel Hogan's death. "Come on, eat." Newkirk gave him a glare but picked up the spoon. He ate a few bites reluctantly, tore apart a roll, chewing almost angrily. Carter leaned on the wall of the cell. "Newkirk, we need to talk."
"No. I mean, talk. You haven't really said anything since Colonel Hogan--since the Colonel left."
"You can say dead, Carter. It's what he is."
Carter winced. Newkirk watched him with the cool expression he'd worn since he'd learned about Colonel Hogan's death. Carter hated that look. It was emotionless, hard, a cynical smirk at the world and all in it. "You don't talk about it."
"And? What should I say? He's dead, that's it."
"He was our friend!"
"Didn't say he wasn't."
"You're not acting like it! I know you're hurting, too, but you act like it doesn't even affect you."
"So? How does that bother you?"
"You're my friend, damn it! I want to talk to you and I can't."
"You can talk all you want. If I'm not acting like you ruddy want, you can talk to LeBeau or Kinch." A sneer entered his voice. "Or maybe Cole."
"He's our CO, Newkirk."
"He's a right twit." Newkirk took a few more bites. "What else, Carter? I 'hardly want to talk about that arse."
"I just want to help."
"Help what? You can't raise the dead."
"Well, what can I do?"
"Absolutely nothing, Carter." Newkirk ate another bit of roll. He looked at Carter.
"What's going on with you? I know you're mad but it's not fair! You're mad at Kinch and it wasn't his fault and LeBeau and I had nothing to do with it!"
"Who said I'm mad at Kinch?'
"You blame him."
"I don't blame Kinch. He did what the gov'nor ordered. He left Colonel Hogan and came back here." Newkirk's stony voice didn't change. "I wouldn't 'ave but he isn't me."
"Colonel Hogan gave him a direct order! He wanted Kinch back here," Carter said, trying to explain.
"And you're mad about that. It's not right, Newkirk, it's not fair!" Carter felt his despair and rage melting together.
"Grow up, Carter, life isn't fair!" Newkirk stood up, began pacing. "And yes, I'm mad! I'm mad at the whole bloody world! I'm mad at Kinch, LeBeau, you, Cole and everyone. I'm even mad at Hogan."
"He didn't ask to die, Peter."
"No, he bloody chose to!" Newkirk whirled. "Just let me alone, Andrew."
"Do you think you're the only one here?" Carter yelled, stomach churning. "He was a friend to all of us. It upset everyone in camp--heck, even Klink was upset."
Newkirk turned his back to Carter, leaned against the bars of the cell. "Just go away," he whispered.
"No! We're friends here, we work together. And you just don't care. He wasn't just my CO. He taught me, helped me. He was my friend, even a brother! And you act as if he was nothing to you. Heck, maybe Kinch is right and it isn't an act. But Colonel Hogan meant a lot to me, Kinch, and LeBeau. He was a good officer and a great guy and I'm just glad he never know knew what you think of him."
"Shut up, Carter!" Newkirk turned, eyes blazing in a way that made Carter take a step back. "You're upset?" Newkirk spat. He grabbed Carter's shirt. "You're upset? Let me get this straight. You, LeBeau, Kinch--you're ruddy unhappy and 'urt because you lost your CO, friend, and brother, right?"
Newkirk shook him, eyes turning shiny with either rage or tears or both, Carter didn't know. "I lost that, too, Andrew! I lost all that plus my lover! Now tell me again you know 'ow I feel or how I don't care! He meant the bleedin' world to me!" He punctuated the last sentence with another shake.