Warnings: Questionable language.
Disclaimer: The Tour of Duty characters and situations do not belong to me. I just love to play in their sandbox.
Summary: Fancy words and a romance novel.
Special thanks to Mel- who not only did her usual awesome beta work, but urged me to write this one in the first place. Thanks, dear one.
False dawn was just tipping the distant horizon. With the long shadows still wrapped around the camp, it could barely be considered morning. There was a hushed silence in the air, accompanied by a lingering coolness. It was that breathless pause between night and day. Full sunrise was not far behind, and when it finally arrived, chasing the twilight back, it would bring the heat of the day with it. In Vietnam, when sunrise came, it came on in a rush.
Team Viking was gathered in the long shadows, outfitted in tiger stripes and their gear. McKay and his flight crew were going over last minute checks on the silent Huey, waiting for the go ahead. The crew chief and gunner had already mounted the sixties and loaded the ammo cans.
Goldman absently listened to the chatter of McKay and his crew as he smoked a cigarette. He stood at the bottom of the ramp that led up to the platform. Anderson stood next to him, shotgun over his shoulder, one arm draped casually over the barrel. Ruiz and Taylor flanked Percell, all three seated on the edge of the platform and peering over Dannyís shoulder at a ratty, much abused paperback book. Hockenbury sat a bit apart from them, polishing the lenses of his glasses.
Myron had no idea where the book had come from. The guys had been sharing it the last several days, reading it with a lot of laughter and knowing looks. From what he could gather, as he hadnít gotten a look for himself, it was some sweeping gothic romance piece. Probably filled with flowery words, graphic love scenes, some impossibly beautiful woman and equally impossibly handsome, dashing man. And here were three special forces soldiers bristling with rifles, grenades and K-bars, hungrily reading every damn word of it.
Goldman would sell his soul for a chance to get his hands on it.
The three men were nudging each other now, whispering under their breath to each other and sliding cautious glances his way. Goldman pretended he didnít notice as he crushed out his cigarette and lit up another. Zeke shifted his weight and caught his eye. The sergeantís sparkled with mischief.
"A dollar itís Taylor." Zeke turned to glance over his shoulder at the camp, but Myron didnít miss the quick smile.
"Okay- deal. My moneyís on Percell."
"Go ask Ďim, Percell. Heís gonna know." Rooís loud whisper had the other two quickly shushing him as three sets of guilty expressions slid Goldmanís way. Zeke had to turn around before he burst out laughing. Hockenbury quirked an eyebrow and then put his glasses back on.
"Come on, man, just do it!" hissed Taylor.
"If yíall are so keen on finding out, why donít YOU ask him?" Percell shot back furiously.
Anderson and Goldman stood shoulder to shoulder, with Zeke now facing the camp. When he turned his head to glance at Myron, Goldman rolled his eyes and was rewarded with another grin.
The three continued to argue under their breath to each other for another few minutes. Goldman watched the crew chief climb up on top of the Huey so that he could check the rotors. The sky continued to lighten in the east in advance of the sunrise yet to come. Behind him, he heard the slam of a screen door, and what sounded like pots rattling. The camp was slowly starting to wake up.
"Man, you two losers both owe me a drink!" Percell snapped under his breath as he got to his feet.
"Pay up." Myron leaned over to Zeke, ignoring Percell who started to walk over to them.
"L-T." Danny came up, the book in his hands and eyes bright. He had a slight flush to his cheeks under the camo paint.
"What is it, Percell?" Myron narrowed his eyes and watched the other man shift a bit uncomfortably. Beside him, Anderson turned back around.
"Can I ask ya something, sir?" Percell hesitated and Goldman let him fidget. From the corner of his eye he caught Hockenburyís smirk before the medic ducked his head. Danny swallowed and looked at Anderson. "Ya see, sir, itís this book, and-" he faltered under Goldmanís level stare. Percell shot a nervous glance back at Taylor and Ruiz who were both watching with huge eyes. "Canyoutellmewhatthiswordmeans?" he rushed out the words. When Goldman raised an eyebrow, he blushed. "Sir."
Myron glanced at Zeke, who was by now grinning from ear to ear. Putting the cigarette in his mouth, he extended his hand for the book. Percell quickly shoved it into his hands, opened to the section in question. "This one right here, L-T," he pointed out.
Myron paused, making sure he'd read it right. With a glance up at Percell, he flipped to the ratty cover. A broad shouldered man with shoulder length hair and torn shirt stood over a buxom red haired woman on the wooden deck of a sailing ship. The man held a cutlass in one hand and the Jolly Roger hung on the mast above them.
It looked completely awful. And Myron couldnít wait to read it.
"The Pirateís Passion?" Zeke leaned over enough to read the title.
"Yeah, well," Percell blushed scarlet and ducked his head. "Itís better than it sounds," he finally muttered.
Myron flipped back to the page and read the paragraph, thinking it out a minute. It wasnít a word he expected to see in a cheap romance novel. "Callipygian?" he finally asked around the cigarette in his mouth.
"Yeah! Is that how you say it, sir? Cal- calliÖ" Percell trailed off, excited and struggling with the pronunciation.
"Callipygian," Myron supplied again. He looked at the cover once more and nodded. "It would seem appropriate."
"Whatís it mean, L-T?" That was Taylor, who could no longer hold back his curiosity. Ruiz shoved his shoulder and glared at him.
Goldman considered it for a few moments. "Comely derriere." He saw Doc grin from ear to ear over Dannyís shoulder.
"Excuse me?" Danny just stared at him and Myron narrowed his eyes. "Sir!" he added quickly.
"What the fuck does that mean?" Taylor grumbled at Ruiz who shook his head and shrugged in confusion.
"You buncha morons." Doc chuckled and climbed to his feet. McKay yelled out the window of the slick that they were ready to get a move on.
"Oh, like you know what the fuck he means, Hockenbury!" Danny shot back, clearly embarrassed as he shoved his hands in his pockets.
With a wink to Goldman and Anderson, Doc walked past his teammates to get into the slick. "It means 'nice ass.'"
"Oh man, we gotta finish that book!"
Danny started to reach for the book, but Goldman shook his head and instead tucked it just inside his shirt. "I donít think so, Percell. Iím confiscating it for now."
"Aw, come on, L-T!" Danny whined as Taylor and Ruiz groaned in frustration. They all shut up when Goldman flicked a dark glance over them, and then scrambled to get on the waiting slick.
"You owe me a buck, Sergeant," Myron said, pleased with himself as they walked up the ramp. McKay was kicking the engine over and the sound filled the quiet camp, chasing the silence back.
"You enjoyed that, didnítcha, L-T?" Anderson grinned at him, eyes still filled with mischief.
"Sergeant, you know me better than that. Besides, Iím always glad when I can expand my menís horizons."
Anderson snorted. "That fancy word really mean that?" he asked after they climbed onto the slick. Anderson settled in his usual spot, Goldman right behind him.
"Bet your ass it does."