One For The Team
This is a little something that started as a few unconnected scenes. I have been trying so hard to find my muse, especially with so many talented authors in this fandom, that when I finally figured out how to connect the dots, I couldn't help myself! No infringement is intended, I promise. Nor is any money being made from this.
Comments are ALWAYS welcome! Enjoy!
There was a slow, regular drip coming from the ceiling, as if a pipe was sweating from somewhere above him. Luckily, it was on the opposite end of the small cell from the hard slab of concrete that was supposed to serve as his bunk. Unluckily, each drop was at just enough of an interval to interfere with his sleep during his extended stay.
It had been a little over a week since he found himself in this "Prison-Within-A-Prison." How he would manage another three was beyond him. He had counted the cement bricks making up the cooler twice. He read, re-read and added to the collection of dirty limericks carved under the bunk. He had even practiced his drumming with the annoying drip acting as a metronome. Nothing was taking his mind off his current predicament. Especially since, double unfortunately, not only was he in one of the very few cells without tunnel access, the other guys would be forbidden from visiting in both conventional and unconventional ways to keep up appearances of him being on the outs with the rest of the team.
If a backstory or random trade was needed for a job, something out of the ordinary but just flamboyant enough to be true, LeBeau was the man. Need a character or someone to innocently advance the story, a believable tattletale? Carter, every time.
But when the Colonel needed something sneaky and underhanded, someone to accept a punishment with no question as to the guilt of said person, somehow he was always the first man to be chosen.
He didn't deny it… Far from it. He knew his less than honest extracurricular activities and talent for trouble was a natural way to help their personal war effort. But Carter usually got a gourmet meal for his trouble. LeBeau often found a pretty Fraulein to engage his mission with, or at least got to lick the bowls when he cooked. Peter Newkirk usually go the standard Thirty Days in the Cooler, and that wasn't including the punishment the Gov'nor would have to enact in order to make sure their scheme seemed realistic.
It was the bloody short end of a ruddy awful stick.
Newkirk filled his nicotine starved lungs with air and heaved a deep sigh his mates would have called overly dramatic. He pulled his Great Coat tighter around him, thankful he had enough thought and notice to grab it this time. All that was left was to contemplate how in the world it wasn't cold enough in the Cooler to freeze the blasted water dripping from that ridiculously annoying pipe. That or count the ceiling bricks again. A mirthless laugh escaped from the back of his throat as his eyes drifted upwards.
"One… Two… Three… Four…"
The Scraping of metal on concrete startled Newkirk out of his counting. The thin beam of sunlight sneaking through the barred window on the other side of the room told him there were still hours before the guards would come with his daily meal. He had been relatively on his best behavior for once, excluding the inappropriate authorship, of course. But even the guards would have appreciated his creative prose, even if it had to be unofficially.
Newkirk stood as the heavy clomp of boots made their way down the hallway. A hiss escaped through his teeth as the muscles in his back and arms protested as he carefully rolled his shoulders to stretch. Though he had had a week of solitary confinement to recover, his body wasn't quite back to normal after the diversion fight he had picked with Carter. All in the name of giving credibility to their tattletale. His fingers carefully probed the tender area around his left eye where Carter had accidentally clocked him. He hope it didn't look as bad as it felt, though the swelling did seem to be down.
"Newkirk!" Sergeant Hans Schultz came around the corner, his signature rifle on his shoulder as he waddled into view. "Newkirk you-" His words were interrupted with a gasp. "Oh, Englander, you look terrible!"
"You should see the other guy." Newkirk muttered. His body relaxed as he sat back down on the cot.
"I have." Schultz shook his head. "He has been dining with Herr Kommendant all week and staying in the guest quarters. He had some very good information to give us! You, however, it seems you need to work on your left hook."
Newkirk's words were lost in a mutter as he pulled his coat around him. "Is there something I can do for you, Shultzie, or did you just come to comment on me fighting skills?"
"I have come with excellent news!" Schultz was un-deterred by Newkirk's grumbles. "Kommendant Klink has convinced Carter to look deep into his heart and forgive you. You have been given a reprieve so long as you promise never to do it again."
It took a moment for Newkirk to find his words. Colonel Hogan had warned him that while he would do his best, he wasn't sure he could talk Klink into reducing his sentence. Somehow he did it and managed to make Klink think he had thought of the idea all along.
"Now that's the best news I've heard all year!" Newkirk couldn't hide the grin creeping on his face. He carefully stood as Schultz unlocked the cell door and swung it open. Down the hall they walked, Newkirk mindful of the few aches and pains that were waking up after a week of no use. He stepped aside so Schultz could open the main Cooler door.
The sunlight was bright as it reflected off the scattered snow and directly into the Englander's unprepared eyes. He instinctively raised his arm to shield himself, his eyes watering from the light.
"Come, Newkirk." Schultz put a gentle hand under his elbow. "While you are no longer confined to the cooler, you are restricted to the Barracks for at least the next two weeks."
"Barracks." Newkirk said with a grin. "That's such a beautiful word."
Prisoner and Guard trudged across the compound, slowly enough for Newkirk's muscles to remember how to work, but quickly enough to reserve what was left of his dignity.
Schultz opened the door to Barracks Two and held it for the other man to walk through. "Now you behave. The rest of the men are out on a work detail, so you rest and stay out of monkey business, Ja?"
Newkirk nodded as Schultz shut the door behind him. It was very rare for anyone to have a whole barrack to themselves. If he hadn't just spent a week in that dungeon he may have indulged himself. As it was, all he wanted was a nice long nap.
He couldn't help himself as another deep sigh escaped. It wasn't personal, how the cards fell for missions. Assignments were handed out to whoever could perform each task the best. And Colonel Hogan rarely needed to discipline his team, but even in the few times it became necessary, he would usually use a lack-of-assignment to correct behavior, not an undesirable one.
As much as he understood and accepted it, his mind couldn't help but drift over the possibility that one of these days it would be nice to have the pretty girl on his arm as he kinked glasses with the Kommendant in a toast. His fingers found the tender skin around his eye again. He shook his head to rid himself of the idea. The spots on this leopard were just a tad too dark to ever change.
Newkirk shuffled over to his bunk, shirking out of his Great Coat as he moved. He hung the coat as best he could on the post to his bed, but didn't bother changing out of his stale uniform. The quiet of the barracks, along with the lack of water drips, was far too tempting to waste time changing.
He lifted one foot up on Carter's bottom bunk, preparing to hoist himself up and over the top. He was debating if he would even bother with the blanket when a pile of items caught his eyes.
Sitting out neatly was a small treasure of goodies he didn't remember leaving there all those days ago. First, an unopened pack of American Cigarettes, a donation from someone's Red Cross package, clearly. Immediately he freed one and lit it, inhaling the glorious smoke. After a few puffs he snuffed out the end and replaced it in the pack. That would curb the desire enough until after his nap. Next he found a slightly worn magazine that obviously hadn't made the camp rounds yet. He found not one, but two English Chocolate Bars from the "Schultz Stash" they kept for emergency bribery. He also found a small paper package which on inspection he found filled with LeBeau's biscuits, still soft as if they were made within the past day or two.
Newkirk grinned as he took out one of the sugary goodies and took a bite, savoring the oats and raisins melting in his mouth, more satisfying than the finest caviar.
He flipped through a few pages of the magazine, admiring the pictures when he noticed a little note scribbled on their blue message paper, poking out just enough to be noticed on close inspection. Newkirk pulled it out from its hiding place, his smile growing wider as he read.
Thanks for taking one for the team."
Newkirk gathered his bounty in his arms and stepped down to ground level. Carefully he packed each item away safely in his footlocker, saving the note for last. He read it one last time before sliding it into a makeshift pocket on the lid for easy access and safe keeping.
He finished the last few bites of his treat before making his way up to his bunk. He buried himself in his thin blanket. This time his deep sigh was one of contentment as he drifted into this first restful sleep since this whole sorry nonsense began.
They each had a unique part to play in this crazy war. While his might not be the most glamourous or extrinsically rewarding, being the resident trouble maker sure did fit him well.