Summary: First in a series of Vietnam/A-team sketches. One night's conversation between Hannibal and BA.
Episode Spoilers: None
Rating: PG-some swearing
The end of the cigar glowed, like an ember in a dying fire. The sweet smoke wafted in the dusk, catching a person unexpectedly. A cigar that sweet didn't belong in the jungles of Vietnam. Find the cigar, and you find the man behind it, even though he was shrouded in the last remnants of twilight. The jungle-patterned fatigues further reduced the man to a shadow among shadows. Only the cigar hinted that a real person was there.
"Sergeant." The word was both a question and an invitation.
The second man advanced into the shadows, his movements controlled. One sensed that this was a man you didn't want to cross. His eyes adjusted, and the form of the other sharpened against the trees. He squatted next to the first, and grunted in greeting.
Neither said anything for a moment. They listened to the sounds of the jungle beyond the perimeter, and the sounds within. Another soldier passed within yards of the two, on his way to guard duty. A empty deuce rolled by, its supplies delivered. There was a grinding clash of metal as its driver searched for the gears.
The second man winced. "Damn fool," he muttered.
The first man smiled. "Easy, Sergeant."
"Ain't gonna be no gears left when he gets done wi' it."
"It's not our problem."
"Not 'til it come back to the motor pool. Then it be my problem."
There was a low chuckle. Another pause, then, "Morrison gave the go-ahead."
"With a little arm-bending."
"Who gonna be in charge?"
"He'll give the missions."
The sergeant snorted. "He ain't nothin' but a paper-pusher. He lucky he know which end of his fancy pistol to point where."
The other shrugged. "And I'm just a 'maverick' colonel." He made a dismissive gesture. "What he doesn't know won't kill him. All he'll care for is results."
"Humph." The silence reigned momentarily. Then, "You got 'em picked?"
"We'll keep it small. You, me, Ray." He hesitated. "But I need another scrounger."
"You don't need no dog-robber."
"I can't plan and scrounge what we need at the same time. We'll have to be quick with these things." He smiled. "And I need some one a little more subtle than you." Involuntarily, the sergeant smiled. His preferred method of settling matters was well known throughout the camp. The colonel continued, "And Ray's too honest."
The sergeant snorted again. "He can't scam yesterday's garbage."
"And he's 'short'. So keep your ears open."
There was a pause. "There some guy in Da Nang, runnin' a club for troops."
"I thought that was just a rumor."
"Nah. It been runnin' two, three months now." The sergeant looked at his superior. "He even got stuff there the O club ain't got."
"How would you know?" The amusement was plain in the colonel's voice.
Between the evening and the sergeant's skin, the flush was not noticeable. "He got a good gym there," he admitted.
The colonel shifted against the tree. "Well, a little leverage never hurt anyone," he said, "Where is this club?"
The sergeant eyed him warily. "Da Nang."
"I won't shut him down, BA," said the colonel, patiently, "But if he's caught, I might want to be there to pick up the pieces. If he's as good as he sounds." When the sergeant still hesitated, he added, "Scout's honour."
"You ain't no scout," said the other. "I know better. 'Sides, Morrison 'ready got it in for this guy."
"Yeah?" The colonel was intrigued. "What'd he do?"
There was no response.
"All right" said the colonel, "What's his name?"
"Peck," said BA.
"Butterbar." There was a grin in the sergeant's voice as he added, "An' I don't know his serial number."
"That'll work." The colonel stood and stretched. "I wish I could get a pilot, too. But First Aviation won't let me in to talk to theirs. We'll just have to take what we get for now." He moved back toward the camp. "C'mon, Sergeant. We've got a trip tomorrow."
The sergeant looked at him suspiciously. "Ain't no way you getting in that club, Colonel," he said.
"Sure I will, BA." He put his arm around the other's shoulders. "Don't you want to take your old buddy and show him the sights? And lend him some collar rank, since he lost his and hasn't gotten to clothing supply yet?"
BA shook his head in resignation. "You on the jazz again, Hannibal."
Author's note: For those not of the military persuasion, a deuce (aka a "deuce-and-a-half") is a 2-1/2 ton truck used for supplies and troops. A "Butterbar" is a second lieutenant, the lowest rank for a commissioned officer. His rank is denoted by a gold bar, which remains gold even in subdued (blackened) format. The term is not complementary. Nor is the term "dog-robber." It refers to a general's aide, the one who does all the arranging of the general's schedule, both on-duty and "official" off-duty events, and occasionally personal events. A motor pool is the area in which all vehicles are kept, and drawn as needed. "Short" in this case does not refer to one's height, but rather to how much of your tour is left. First Aviation (Brigade) is the patch on Murdock's left shoulder in the episode "A Nice Place to Visit."