Impressions

By DC
© April 2005

 

Rating: G

Disclaimer: The Tour of Duty characters do not belong to me. I simply love to play in their sandbox.

Summary: A scene explored in more detail from The Ties that Bind. Colonel Brewster meets Goldman and Anderson for the first time.
 

Special thanks always to Mel, who beta'd this. And to both Mel and Kristy for encouraging me with this particular story.

 


General Elliot’s timing couldn’t have been worse, Carl considered as he stood back and watched Lieutenant Goldman and Sergeant Anderson walk into his office. He closed the door behind them, but instead of circling behind his desk, Carl purposely chose to walk in front of it. That put him, if only briefly, on top of both men and into their personal space. He picked up a file from the corner of his desk. 

Goldman didn’t even register he was there, but Carl didn’t miss Anderson moving in a step closer to his lieutenant, his head up.  Anderson fixed Carl with an unreadable look before switching his gaze away. Both men stood, arms behind their backs, Anderson just behind and to the right of his lieutenant. Their body language told Carl more than either could imagine. 

Carl flipped open the file, leaning an elbow on the filing cabinet in the corner of his office. “I’ve read your 201 file and as far as the Army is concerned, I know all there is to know about you.” Carl dropped the file back on his desk. Looking at both men, he shoved his hands in his pockets and leaned back against the cabinet, watching and assessing. “However, I tend to agree with George Patton. Files don’t inform as to how the man reacts.” He paused, watching the younger man with a keen interest. “What do you know about MACV SOG, Lieutenant?” 

“That SOG’s an unconventional warfare task group… involved in highly classified operations throughout southeast Asia. Studies and Operations Group is a title given to it as a cover. Just hearsay.”  Goldman’s voice was flat and there was nothing behind it. When he looked at Carl, the dark eyes were blank, showing no emotion at all.  

Carl was already aware of the situation, of Alex Devlin’s death and the relationship the young lieutenant had had with her. He was prepared to see grief and anger in the other man. But that wasn’t the case here, Carl realized. He had no doubt the young man was hurting, but he had locked it down tight and buried the grief deep. 

There were three men in the room, but only two were really there. Anderson kept flicking his gaze to his lieutenant, but remained silent. Carl had no problem with the read there- the sergeant was worried about his friend. 

“At least the Army’s rumor mill is alive and kicking.” Carl crossed his arms over his chest, continuing to watch the pair. “Two dozen Americans are assigned to SOG- mostly Special Forces. Plus eight thousand highly trained indigenous troops.” 

Goldman was slipping further into himself, looking at the floor. Anderson gave another quick glance to Goldman. “That’s good company,” he finally spoke up for both of them. Goldman shifted his weight in Anderson’s direction, something inside reacting to the sergeant’s voice. 

Maybe the boy hadn’t completely checked out- there might be something that could be brought back to the surface, Carl considered. 

“Past tense, Sergeant. I’ve been informed by MACV Headquarters that qualified Special Forces personnel are no longer available. That’s why they sent me your unit.” That wasn’t the entire truth, but Carl wasn’t about to tell them that. But he wanted to get Goldman to react, to come out of the daze he was in. 

“We’re here because of our availability?” Myron met his gaze, but still Carl saw nothing. 

It was time to push some buttons and see what he got. “Your unit has a lot to prove, Lieutenant.” 

“Begging your pardon, sir, I believe my unit has proved itself.” Myron raised his head, but the words held no emotion behind them. For all the words were spoken, Goldman wasn’t defending himself or his men. Carl had hoped to spark some anger and defiance. 

He looked at Anderson who was watching Goldman with mounting concern. Anderson met his gaze head on. “Lieutenant’s right…sir.” There was the indignation Carl was looking for, but not from this man. Anderson had picked up on what he was doing, and he clearly didn’t like Carl’s tactics. “I’ve never served with better men, special training, or NO special training.” 

The challenge was plainly there. Don’t mess with mine, I don’t care who you are. 

A fiercely loyal man and just as protective was this sergeant. 

They were definitely a pair, even with Goldman locked down behind a wall of grief. Carl had seen it back at Tan Son Nhut, before the reporter’s death. He already knew what he was getting; he never went into anything blind. These two went well beyond the officer/NCO relationship- they had a very close and rare friendship. Carl had observed them, ignoring Major Darling’s annoying presence at the time as he watched the pair walk with their unit out to the slicks for another mission. 

“We’ll see.” Carl nodded, taking a deep breath. “Welcome aboard.” 

“Thank you, sir.” Both men responded together. Carl watched as they started to leave, Anderson stepping back to let Goldman precede him. 

“Sergeant Anderson, I’d like to speak to you a moment.” 

Both men paused, Goldman not quite looking back at Anderson. “I’ll catch up to ya, L-T.” 

Goldman gave a short nod and without looking at Brewster, left the office, pulling the door shut behind him. 

Carl waited and watched as Anderson came back to stand where he had before. The sergeant still wasn’t looking directly at him. Anderson stood with his head up, and hands behind his back. Carl, arms still crossed, studied the compound outside his window for several long moments. 

“Is there something I need to know, Sergeant, concerning the lieutenant?” Carl turned back to Anderson. 

“Sir?” Anderson met his gaze, eyes darkening a shade. There was just the slightest shift in his stance. 

“I’d like to know what the situation is, Sergeant. What has shut Goldman down?” Carl came around to the front of his desk, standing directly in front of Anderson. He rested back against it, hands braced to either side of him. “He has shut down, hasn’t he?” 

“No, sir, I don’t think so.” 

“Then what exactly is going on?” Carl could see the set of the other man’s jaw and the flash of defiance in his eyes. 

“It ain’t nothin’ he can’t handle, sir.” The words were clipped and edged just enough to have Carl narrow his eyes. “It’s not my place to say more, ‘cept that the L-T does best when he’s left alone… sir.” 

“I don’t need to be worrying about one of my men going over the edge, Sergeant.” Carl decided to give Anderson some room and walked behind his desk. 

“No, sir, ‘n’ that ain’t gonna happen with the L-T.” Anderson shook his head and shifted his stance. “I’ve been with ‘im long enough to know.” 

“Maybe it’s time he came out of the field.” 

“He’s a damn fine officer, sir. He belongs with these men.” There was a flash of something across the dark eyes, something Carl wasn’t quite sure of. “It won’t do anyone any good, least of all the L-T, to take him out.” 

Carl watched him for a moment, taking a deep breath. He liked the other man, liked how he stood by his lieutenant. Anderson clearly respected Goldman, and for a man with as much time over here as Carl knew Anderson had, that said a great deal about the young lieutenant. Anderson was straightforward and down to earth, something Carl suspected Goldman centered on. 

“Sir?” 

Carl looked back up, meeting with the dark blue eyes. There was still that defiance, but behind it Carl also saw worry and concern. 

“Yes, Sergeant?” 

“The L-T… Lieutenant Goldman- he’s about the finest officer ‘n’ man I’ve ever served with ‘n’ I stand by that.” He paused, Carl watching him decide what he wanted to say. “And the men think just as much of ‘im, sir.” 

“I just want to know what I’m dealing with.” 

“He’ll give you everything, Colonel, that’s just who he is. But he don’t trust easily, ‘n’ that, sir, you’re gonna hafta figure out for yourself.” Anderson held his gaze without hesitation. 

“Very well, then. I appreciate the candor and the advice, Sergeant Anderson.” 

Carl leaned back against the filing cabinet, nodding dismissal to Anderson’s salute. He watched the other man leave the room before he looked out his window again, thinking. 

It wasn’t often he saw such a tight pair. Young officers did their time in the field and then got the hell out and fast, leaving men like Anderson to train up another green officer time and again. But Goldman hadn’t left, nor had any intention of leaving. What did that say about him? 

First impressions were telling, but Goldman and Anderson didn’t know this wasn’t Carl’s first impression. He’d seen a great deal back at Tan Son Nhut and had been impressed. But that was before Miss Devlin’s death and the young man who stood before him today was not that same young man from several weeks ago. 

Goldman was already going to be a challenge, Carl knew that going in. Now everything was that much more complicated. 

But then Carl liked a challenge. 

 

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