A Very Ranger Christmas can sometimes be a mission, away from all the fun celebrations. It comes with the job, even if it's not what a soldier would hope for.
I wrote this because I wanted to show that soldiers can be called to duty at any time, and because I never write Christmas fics, and this is a way to write a Christmas fic while avoiding writing a Christmas fic. The typical sappy "I got you this." "Awww I got you this!" scene just doesn't exactly fit most of the Joes, so a easy-to-do Christmas scene can't be used.
I know it will be a stunning surprise but this fic is Beachhead centered, although I'll pull in other Joes as we go. I even give a couple little-used Joes some fic-time!
Beachhead shut the office door behind himself and came to attention. "Reporting as ordered, Sir!"
Hawk glanced upward and waved him to a seat. "At ease, sit down."
Dragging his mask off, Beach settled into one of the chairs gingerly. He swiped one hand at a particularly large clump of mud on his knee. "Sorry sir, I came right off the course."
"Understandable. You've got a mission." Hawk handed over a folder. "I know it's nearly Christmas, but..."
Shaking his head, Beach snorted. "But bad guys don't stop fer the holidays. I understand that." His eyes picked out the most important information from the intel reports. "Back to Turkanstaki?"
Hawk showed a ghost of a smile. "Different part of the country though. And you won't be going in as Beachhead either." He handed over another paper and watched Beach reading it and then sighing. "Think you can handle it?"
He was treated to a frown. "Sir, I'm a Ranger. I can handle whatever you can find for me." Beach settled back in the chair and mused over the papers. "This could go all kinds of wrong pretty easily though. I'll have to get in somehow... they'll raise security the instant the big wig shows up."
Hawk saw his command sergeant major plotting different ways to accomplish what Hawk needed done, discarding ideas that didn't fit with the information in the reports, weeding out the plans that depended on too many things going 'right' and picking the ones that allowed for plenty of 'what if' scenarios. Within a few minutes, the stocky Ranger leaned forward and spread a few pages out. "Sir... I'll need some expert advice from a couple people, and some regular fatigues, but what if I..."
Over an hour later, Beachhead was walking out, a map clutched in his hand and a determined look on his face. Duke met up with him as he headed down to the quartermaster storerooms. "Beach, you getting set?"
"Yeah, gotta get some regular fatigues that fit me." Beach glanced down at his tall boots. "And some regular combat boots. Sonnabitch, I like my boots. I'll bet I end up with bruised shins before I'm back." He sighed and gave the junior quartermaster a few items to pull off the shelves. "Duke..." Suddenly the confident Ranger faltered. "I uhh... I mean, could..."
Duke's eyebrows went up. "Yes?" He watched Beach fiddle with the edge of his folder of papers. "What?"
Beach inhaled. "Could I ask you to give somethin' to Courtney... I mean... you know..."
Duke carefully didn't smile. "Sure, but shouldn't you give her whatever it is yourself?"
"Well, it's in my top desk drawer. Little blue box and I'd give it to her myself but I mean, if I don't make it back, you'll give it to her, right?" Beach looked everywhere but at Duke's face. If he fiddled the edge of the folder much more, he'd tear completely through it.
"Beach, you're coming back. You won't be facing Cobra, just some local warlord's minions. Don't get all morbid on me here." Duke felt a slight pang of alarm. What if the man had a gut feeling he wasn't going to survive the mission? Duke might be a experienced Intel agent and a rugged leader of soldiers, but deep down inside, he was also a superstitious Army grunt. When a guy said he had that feeling, you'd better watch out for him. "You'll be okay..."
Beach gave him a perturbed glare. "Hell, Top! I just meant I might not make it back by Christmas day. Damn man, I ain't gonna buy it in some backwater scum hole at the hands of a bunch of half-trained toughs. I just wanted to be sure Courtney got her present on the right date." He rolled his eyes. "Ain't gotta go bein' all melodramatic."
Duke inhaled. "Oh, of course... I mean, of course I will. You'll probably be back before then anyway." He breathed out a soft sigh of relief. The Ranger grabbed up the clothing and started back up the hall and Duke fell in beside him. "What else do you need?"
"Gotta go have a chat with PsycheOut to get some advice." At Duke's incredulous look, Beach snorted. "Man is good at his job, just likes to pry inside folks' heads too much. Nosy bastard."
Duke blinked. "Well, part of his job is to pry inside everyone's heads. He'll enjoy getting to use the more offense-sided part of his job description." He thought it over a moment. "I sometimes forget you're not a country yokel. Good planning job on this."
Beachhead grunted in reply. "Ah dunno whut yer talkin' 'bout, Top. Ah ain't nuthin' more than a country bumpkin." His sly look sideways at his commanding officer made Duke roll his eyes. "Ain't gotta have no head-shrinkin' degree, nor quote Shakespeare at the drop of a beret to be intelligent or sneaky."
"So I'm continually reminded." Duke grinned. "Have I mentioned lately how glad I am that you're on our side?" He clapped the Ranger on the back. "You be careful. I read over your plans. It could go wrong easily, so stay sharp. We'll only be able to send a small retrieval team in when we receive the signal from the transponder."
"I know." Beach dropped the worst of his accent easily. "I'll get the goods and be waitin' for the team to pick me up. Just don't let Wild Bill stop for BBQ no where." He glanced over his shoulder as he strode down towards the medical offices. "And keep my greenshirts outa trouble! Last time I came back and you'd let them paint half my obstacle course pink."
"Well, I didn't 'let' them..." Duke chuckled at the memory of half the greenshirts having to scrub the paint off while wearing one hundred pounds of dive weight belts. "But I'll keep a eye on them until you get back."
Beach poked his head into the team psychologist's office and hummed. "You in?"
PsycheOut jumped, dropping half a dozen files he'd been holding. "Holy! Beachhead! Dammit, do you guys have to come scare the skin off me for no reason? Don't you have other things to do?"
Chuckling anyway, Beach walked in and shut the office door behind himself. "Hey, this is business... I got a mission. Need some input on prisoner psychology. Figured you'd be the resident expert."
Perking up considerably, PsycheOut put aside the files. "Oh? Well, I happen to be the one to talk to... what do you need to know?"
A US Army corporal stumbled along a deserted pathway, attempting to fumble at his rifle as he negotiated the rocky trail. At irregular intervals, he would look around nervously. Finally he stopped to try to insert the magazine into the M16. Cursing softly, he slapped at it and knocked it loose. Bending to scoop it up off the ground, he looked up at a small group of scruffily dressed men pointing weapons at him.
"ACK!" The corporal stepped backwards and turned to see two more men behind him. Holding up his arm, he pointed at the flag on his sleeve. "Hey... hey, I'm with the American soldiers. I got lost. Do you know where they are? I'm US Army." He turned to look at the others. "America? I'm lost."
One of the men snorted and stepped up to grab the rifle from his hands. "Hey! Don't take that!" Guns came up to point at his head and he jumped and held up his hands. "It's broken... I was trying to fix it... I'm American. It's busted... I couldn't fix it and I got separated and uhh.." The scruffy native laughed to his friends and flicked the safety off then on. When he slipped the magazine into the slot and slapped it into place, the US soldier turned a little red. "I couldn't get it to work..." He reached towards his rifle and was pushed away. "Hey, that's mine. Government property and all."
The sharp blow to the back of his head sent him sprawling onto the dirt. A hard eyed militant glared down at the disguised Beachhead, hefting the rifle butt in a threatening manner. "You are our property now, US soldier." He booted his victim in the ribs a few times. "Bring him."
Blinking rather hazily at the dim light coming through the single barred window, Beach peered around his wooden cell. "Fuck.." As he shifted around to sit up, he found his wrists bound in front of himself with rough rope. Twisting his arms a little, he grimaced and took stock of himself. Other than assorted bruises and a lump on his head, he wasn't in bad shape. He let out a loud whimper of pain and scooted forward slightly. Feeling along his waist, he found his belt, handgun, knife and ammo pouch all missing. Kicking his feet out in front of himself, he grimaced at his wool socks. The bastards had taken his boots.
"Hey! Hey! Where am I!" He groaned in pain and rolled onto his side to scrub his face in the dirt a little before sitting up again. Letting out a louder whimper, he listened as the door lock was clicked open. Cringing away from the militant that stalked in to sneer at him, he whined in pain. "What are you doing? I got lost! You have to take me to the Americans!" He got kicked in the leg and yelped and writhed ineffectively along the floor.
"I do not have to take you anywhere. I do not have to do anything for you. You are a prisoner." The smug expression as the man leaned in close made his victim flinch. "You're quite a prize, I do not understand why, it was simple to capture you. But as a symbol for your country, it will be very effective to see you shot in the head in the media." He smiled evilly at the shocked expression. "Yes, as soon as Mad Tournish arrives, he will reward us for capturing you, then we will arrange for you to be killed as the capitalist pig that you are!" He reached to grab the exposed throat and squeezed. "As pleasurable as it would be for me to simply kill you now..."
Choking and batting at his captor's arms, Beach started seeing spots before he was released to flop onto the dirt, coughing and gasping. He huddled in on himself while he was kicked several times. Then there was harsh laughter as the man left, the sound of the lock clicking into place almost unheard under the wails of pain.
Rolling over, Beach let his cries of pain fade somewhat. Gazing around the room, he got to his feet and slid to the door to peer out a crack in the center. He saw a guard seated across the room and moved away from the door, still whimpering loudly. The guard only glanced up at the door with disinterest once before going back to the crumbled newspaper he was perusing. Checking out the window, the Ranger quieted finally. Watching the dusty yard, he checked the perimeter he could see, finding a single guard tower with a bored looking youngster snoozing in it. A few armed men wandered the compound aimlessly, talking in small groups or smoking cheap cigarettes. "Buncha amateurs." Spotting a nearby man, he shouted at him using a trembling voice. "Hey! H-hey! Help me! I need help!" The guy frowned at him then got up to walk towards the narrow window. Beach crammed himself up against the bars trying to look desperate. "Yeah yeah... look, I don't belong here! I'm American. Can you get me out? Out? Free? Please?"
The man pointed at himself and raised his eyebrows in query. Beach nodded and pushed his face against the bars of the window. "Yeah! Help me! I need help, I just got lost and..."
He flinched back just in time to avoid the rifle butt that slammed into the bars. He fell onto the floor on his back, shrieking in terror. Scrambling into a corner, he scrunched up and hid his face while moaning. The man looked in the window laughing before walking away, shouting to his friends about the frightened prisoner.
Beach whimpered in fear for a while longer, reaching up to feel his head a bit as he huddled in his corner. He felt the tiny bits of metal still tangled in his hair and put his hands down again. Quieting, he shifted about to get more comfortable and shivered. It was cold in his cell and without any boots or jacket, he was already chilled and it wasn't even night yet. He figured that as soon as it got dark the temperatures would begin to drop. Nothing to do but try to conserve his body heat as best he could. Sighing heavily, he shifted his feet underneath himself to keep them warm and settled in to doze until the leader of the local terrorist cell arrived. As long as his captors thought he was a beaten and terrified inexperienced soldier, they wouldn't increase security on him. The target was slated to arrive late in the day. With any luck at all, he wouldn't need to be here very long.
So now what? In case it's not clear, Beach is acting. He's not "OOC", he's acting a bit wimpy in order to lull the enemy into not thinking he's dangerous. Just in case anyone is going "WHAT? WHY?"
Next chapter will be soon.