Reference: "Wisconsin Capitol protesters disrespect the Veterans Memorial" on YouTube. This fic was inspired by real events. No names were used and the scenario obviously does not follow the real life one exactly. But my outrage at seeing the video needed some outlet and I hope that this encourages readers to think about the honor due to our veterans in general and our fallen soldiers in particular.
Thank you to Totenkinder for beta work and to Karama for beta work and encouragement.
Hawk's hotel suite in Washington
"Clayton, I do appreciate this. I promise I'll bring your Sergeant major back before the evening meal." The pretty woman adjusted her suit jacket slightly in the mirror on the parlor room wall. "I don't know why my bodyguard came down ill. He probably ate something vile. Man has no taste at all in teppanyaki."
Beachhead cast an imploring gaze at Hawk who was smiling genteelly at the lady senator. She smiled back at him, completely ignoring the poor Ranger he'd just volunteered as a replacement bodyguard. "Oh, it's no trouble Senator. I'm sure he'd have been stir crazy here at the hotel while I did paperwork." Hawk's smile seemed to widen just a tad as he looked over at BeachHead who did his best to give a whipped puppy expression. "He doesn't care for sitting about in hotel suites."
She nodded. "Of course, of course. I don't feel there's any real need for bodyguards but with the personal threats.. you know how it is. All I need is some large male presence to loom about and look threatening." She glanced at the burly Ranger dressed in his green Army uniform. "I'm sure your man can slow down any dangerous person long enough for security to come get him under control." She turned back to the mirror and Beach made a face at Hawk showing his outrage at her comments.
Hawk put up a finger and glared and Beach subsided, putting on a bland look of disinterest as she turned back to him. "I have a driver so you'll only have to accompany me in public."
He gave a single proper nod to her. "Yes ma'am." She smiled and plucked up her bag, excusing herself into the restroom briefly. Beach immediately stepped up to Hawk. "Please.. pleeeease sir... she's goin' shoppin'... in a mall.. ain't there some other.."
Hawk raised an eyebrow at him. "Who else do I have? Clutch? Besides, she'll owe me a favor and I need a favor from her on this budget concern. So suck it up soldier. I'm sure that walking around with a senator for a afternoon won't harm you. It'll keep you from dismantling the guns on the suite's carpet again when you get bored. The government pays for a four-hundred-dollar-a-night room, it doesn't pay for carpet cleaning when room service finds gun oil all over the rugs."
"Ah said Ah was sorry.." Beach shut up when the door clicked open from the restroom. "Yes sir."
"Good man." Hawk gave him a hearty clap on the shoulder. "You have a good shopping trip, Senator. Sergeant major Sneeden is very trustworthy. You'll have no worries with him on the job." She nodded and allowed Hawk to take her hand in a polite gesture.
Beach tried to look pleasant when she turned her polite smile on him, then followed as she sailed towards the suite doors. He cast one last look at Hawk over his shoulder only to hear the General whisper at him.
"Stop trying to smile.. you'll terrify her."
Beach rolled his eyes then schooled his expression into a polite and attentive blank. "Yes ma'am... comin' right now ma'am."
0 0 0 0
Beach forbid himself to sigh. Shifting his weight onto his heels and back to the balls of his feet, he scanned the crowds and watched for any possible threats to the senator. The hair on the back of his neck prickled at both the people surrounding them and the fact that he was in a clothing shop in a mall. With a Very Important Senator who was also(and more importantly to him) Useful to Hawk. Who wanted to 'drop in' to some high end store at this mall. Who really was probably a nice person and kept trying to engage Beachhead in idle small talk about things of interest like celebrities and fashion. Beachhead didn't see why he was considered 'appropriate' to guard some politician under cover as a aide although he knew that sending the only other Joe with Hawk would have been a complete disaster. Clutch hitting on a proper lady senator would probably end in GI Joe's funding being given to a 'sensitivity training program'.
"Sergeant major, hold this for me.. " He turned his head to look down with disbelief at the clothing held up towards him. One bushy eyebrow quirked upwards in a decidedly unamused manner. The hand wagged the fabric at him. "Take this.. are you listening?"
"Yes ma'am, Ah'm listenin'. Mah apologies, but no ma'am, Ah'm not holdin' yer shoppin'." He waited for her to turn an outraged expression on him before he continued in a oh-so-reasonable tone that he knew for a fact drove Courtney to complete murderous rage when he used it on her. "Ah can't be encumbered by clothin' bits if'n somethin' was to happen. Sorry ma'am. Please remember, Ah'm not really an assistant, Ah'm security." His calm unperturbed expression made her scowl, but she draped the clothing over her own arm.
"Well, I hardly think that some assassin is hiding amongst the clothing racks for you to pick up a blouse so he can murder me." She huffed as she turned back to the rack. "I'd think you could be helpful."
He blinked his eyes slowly, mentally counting to ten twice, going over the five quickest ways to kill the nearest dozen shoppers, then thought about how to phrase his objections to all this to Hawk that evening when this... Very Important Person was on her way back to Ohio. Hawk had two more days in Washington before they would get to fly back to the Pitt and regular life again.
"No ma'am.. yes ma'am." He left it at that and went back to scanning the vicinity. His gaze discarded each individual as a threat, noted idly that the prices shown would buy an entire wardrobe for a family for what the store charged for a single dress, and then flicked out over the people again, watching for any changes in attitude or body language that could signal any aggression and thus any excuse for him to get to beat someone into a pulp.
He almost let out a sigh before swallowing it and straightening a bit more inside his uniform. Hawk 'asked' him to watch over the senator. Thus Beach would guard her and shut up and be respectful and not give in to the urge to accidentally tip over a skirt display onto her perfectly coiffed head.
0 0 0 0
They were walking back towards the exit where the senator's driver would be waiting for them. It had taken hours for the crazy woman to pick out a bare half dozen items, pay an outrageous sum of money for them, then browse her way through another dozen small stores. Any hint of impatience on his part invoked commentary on how little discipline soldiers seemed to have. He'd twitched and actually bitten his tongue hard to keep from shouting at the Very Important Senator. She'd also gone on about how the budget contained entirely too much military spending which made him twitch again.
Now she'd stopped again and he took a slow deep breath and pushed down the urge to shove her down the aisles to the exit, toss her into the trunk of the car and drive her ignorant ass back to the hotel to deposit her with Hawk. He'd shopped with other women and he knew it was important for any female to spend the maximum amount of time in each store that might hold some bit of frippery that was 'just perfect' for an outfit that looked perfectly fine to him without it.
At least this time she was chatting with some political demonstrators handing out pamphlets. Anything was better than a store. Especially a clothing store... his brain suddenly clicked and his eyes narrowed. The demonstrators had a bunch of typically cheaply printed up merchandise to sell, plus a stack of fliers and such to hand out. This was of no interest to him.
He stepped closer to the chatting knot of people, bringing into view the concrete block that they were standing next to. The various brightly colored sweatshirts, tees, posters and a full color banner were all laid over the hefty stone, a few stacks of the fliers set at the corners, weighing down the edges of the banner. Reaching out, he used a finger to lift the edge of a teeshirt proclaiming 'Join America' and felt his eyelid twitch suddenly.
"Whut the fuck is this?" He was really proud that he kept his temper completely in check. His flat tone probably said he was displeased, but he hadn't ranted or screamed.
The senator still sounded offended. "Pardon me? These are members of a grassroots campaign.."
He frowned at her. "Ah'm talking about why they got all this stuff settin' on top of a memorial for fallen soldiers?" He was treated to clueless looks and he pointed at the stone block. "This. This is a memorial for soldiers what were killed in action. Why's stuff all over it?"
The young woman wearing one of the teeshirts smiled rather condescendingly. "Well, this is all our campaign fund-raising materials. We're trying to raise money to lobby for.."
Beach knew his voice got louder. He couldn't have helped it if he'd wanted to try. And he most definitely did Not Want to Try. "The fuck Ah care?"
The smile faltered slightly and the woman glanced over at the senator who looked a bit horrified. "Well.. you understand our cause is a worthy one, we have over a thousand members just here.."
"The fuck Ah care?" Beach struggled to stay in a reasonable tone of voice. "Why you got yer stuff all over the memorial?" His expanded question should result in them understanding.
Instead the senator tried to smile at him. "Moderate your language.. we're in public and we don't want any embarrassment." She stepped up and gave him one of those Significant Looks that women used to impart the knowledge that they were highly displeased with what you were doing. "I am certain these wonderful young people have the mall's permission..."
Beach growled low in his throat. "The FUCK Ah care about the mall's permission? Their stuff is all over a Memorial." He drew the word out to make certain they heard the term. "Memorial. Fer dead soldiers. Soldiers what died in service to the country YOU represent. It's disrespectful fer them to treat it like it's a coffee table fer their junk to be all over it."
Now one of the young men decided to step in and stand up for his group. "Now look here, you might not agree with what we believe, but we have every right to say it!" His stance said he was young and male and wasn't afraid to speak his mind.
Beach turned on him. "Ah don't care if yer pushin' fer fresh gawd damn pies on every messhall table. Yer DISRESPECTIN' a Memorial and yer gonna take that stuff offa it, now!" He watched all three start to stiffen up and protest-something about how great their group was, how important they were, or how they were right in protesting or supporting whatever the cause was. "This is a damned GRAVESTONE! It represents dead soldiers! GET THE SHIT OFFA THE DAMN MEMORIAL NOW!" He swiveled to snarl into the young man's face. "Clear it offa there right gawd damn now a'fore Ah use yer spleen to polish the fuckin' stone! NOW!"
The items were yanked away while Beachhead scowled at them and the senator scowled at him. He waited until the last fliers were pulled down and the people started to walk away while sulkily frowning at him. "You gonna leave those bits a tape on it? You think Ah oughta go stick some fliers up on yer momma's gravestones? That seem respectful to you?" Two scurried back to pick the largest bits of paper and tape loose and then trotted off after their friends, probably to reset up somewhere more appropriate without angry Rangers standing around to shout unreasonably at them.
He grumbled under his breath and took his time removing all the bits of tape, rubbing a sleeve on a section to get the sticky residue off and polish the smooth stone. Checking it carefully, he scowled around at everyone in the vicinity. "Ain't right puttin' stuff on a soldier memorial." There were a few nods but more uncomfortable looks than not. "Ya'll think the soldiers would have disrespected graves? They're buried somewhere right now... their momma's go visit their gravestones and cry over them being dead. This is supposed to remind ya'll that folks died fer yer country and yer right to freedom. Ain't right to go disrespectin' that sacrifice. " He wiped the top one last time before turning to the senator. "Fine.. let's just go."
She looked at him with a annoyed expression. "You feel rather strongly about a memorial you've never seen before and likely won't ever see again." She turned and began walking beside him towards the distant exit. "I'll be having a chat with your commanding officer about your behavior."
He gritted his teeth and struggled to keep from retorting. Hawk had sent him instead of Clutch because he was supposed to be less likely to cause an incident. "Yes ma'am." He stalked alongside of her indignant form all the way to the exits, stepping ahead of her through the doors first. Even if he wanted to thump her, he was still going to guard her. All the way back to the hotel until he was relieved of duty. Without thumping her. He raised a hand and signaled the driver to come around so they could load up and drive back to the hotel.
"Well at least you can signal for the car. Thank goodness you can manage that. Perhaps you'd like to drop your trousers and moon the general public? I'm sure that would up my embarrassment level." The senator handed her packages to the driver who jumped out to assist her. Beach felt his fingers curl to encompass an imaginary neck and he clasped them behind his back just as she turned. "I think on a whole, being embarrassed might be worse than someone trying to murder me. I'd hope you would be as competent at protecting my life as you are at making a scene in public!"
"Yes ma'am." Beach stood carefully watching the area while she got in. Once the driver stowed the packages and got in, the Ranger sighed and slipped into the passenger seat. As soon as his door shut, the senator used the drive to harangue him over his behavior while he did his best to stare straight ahead and merely answer with a yes or no when required.
It was a long ride.
0 0 0 0
When they entered Hawk's hotel suite, she swept in and immediately started in to Hawk, going on and on about each nuance of his behavior and exactly how embarrassed she had been and then the level of punishment she felt would be appropriate. Beachhead closed the door quietly behind himself and slunk in to stand to one side. He tried to catch Hawk's eye and received a glare that made him clamp his mouth shut and lower his gaze to the floor. Settling into attention, he kept his eyes on the floor and tried not to even twitch as she vented to Hawk about every aspect of his behavior.
Hawk finally cleared his throat, causing her to quiet. "I assure you Senator, I did not intend for my soldier to embarrass you in public. My sincere apologies." Gesturing towards the door, he ushered her out, snapping his fingers for the replacement bodyguard her offices had sent over to take her out. "I will indeed be leveling an appropriate response to him in light of his actions today. Please accept my apologies that this incident had to take place on your shopping trip. I am only glad that your gracious nature means this won't reflect on your voting policies."
Faced with the disarming smile and charm, the senator almost fluttered. "Well of course I wouldn't blame you for some uncouth soldier's misbehavior." Beach glanced at her and she sniffed disdainfully. "No matter how terrible." She left with a dramatic flourish and a derisive snort at Clutch who was just arriving.
Clutch hummed rather happily at her rear as he watched her walking down the hallway before shutting the door slowly to catch the last sight. "Wow... she's kinda.." He turned and noticed the expressions on both men standing there. Hawk was glaring at him in a manner that had been know to stop even ninja. BeachHead didn't look much better. Clutch's inner voice was screaming at him to flee immediately. "Oh. You know.. my bad.. things going on here.. and.. annnnnnnnd look how stupid I am! I forgot my... uhh... something or other important.. and blah mumble.. going to go now.. " He opened the door as he spoke, twirling a hand as he fumbled for more to say. "I uuh... will.. be back.. sometime later when the loud noises stop and the parts of Beach you don't like are swept under the rugs neatly.. " The door clicked shut behind him and there was the sound of quick footsteps retreating down the hallway.
Hawk looked at the closed door for a few second. "Clutch does have a survival sense. Who would have guessed?"
Beach glanced up and hazarded a comment. "He woulda died by now from groin kicks otherwise, Sir." Hawk turned back to him and raised an eyebrow. "Sorry Sir."
Taking a deep breath in and letting it out, Hawk stepped up to stand in front of his Sergeant major. Beach tried stare at one of Hawk's shirt buttons rather than meet his disappointed gaze. Hawk's voice was controlled and even. "So was what she said true?"
Beach wasn't even able to fidget with his commanding officer standing right there. "Well... she was right in everything she said I said... but.."
"So you said that to the civilians in public in front of the senator?" Hawk interrupted.
"Yes sir." Beach waited.
"Damn it Beach. Do you have any idea how much paperwork I'm supposed to get done tonight?" Hawk walked over to pick up his uniform jacket.
Beach tilted his head. "Uhh.. nooo... sir... "
Slipping his jacket on and settling it properly, Hawk huffed in agitation. "Well it's a lot of damned paperwork and now I'm going to have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning getting it done because I have to take you out for a steak dinner." He twisted to give a mock glare. "What? You didn't hear me tell her that I would have to give an appropriate response? Is a steak dinner not enough of a reward for defending a War Monument from being disgraced by a bunch of pansy-assed pencil-necks with no respect? Fine. I'll buy you pie. But only one damned piece."
Beachhead blinked slowly. "But... but..."
"All right... enough. Two pieces. But you're paying the damages if you bite the plate this time. Let's go." Hawk motioned towards the door and Beach finally snapped out of it and straightened up to walk out with him. Hawk's hand came up to pat his shoulder firmly. "Hell man.. I'm rewarding your restraint. If I had been there personally, I would have kicked their damned asses myself. And you know Generals are not supposed to indulge in that sort of thing. That's why we have you uncouth NCOs you know."
Beach's tone was pleased. "Ah suspected." They walked down the hallway and Beach stood next to him in the elevator as the doors closed. "Thank you Sir. It weren't right what they was doin'."
Hawk spoke quietly without any hint of mockery. "No Beach... it 'weren't right' at all. We have to remember those that gave all. If we don't... who will?"