Disclaimer: The Tour of Duty characters and situations do not belong to me. I just love to play in their sandbox.
Summary: Colonel Brewster speaks to Anderson concerning Goldman.
Special thanks as always to those who stick with me through these- Mel, Tracey and Doc. Thanks for your advice and beta work, I couldnít write without you.
Since this is Melís request to me- Iíd like to dedicate this one to her. Thanks for believing dear one.
"He was my friend."
Brewster couldnít get the still-fresh image of those dark eyes out of his mind as he leaned heavily on the hand he braced flat on the table. Eyes black with darkness of the night and the pouring rain. Haunted and lost.
Another wall goes up.
And the lieutenant withdraws that much further behind it, burned by betrayal. Carl realized the younger man was slipping that much further away from everyone. From himself. And if Goldman slipped too far, no one would be able to bring him back.
Brewster sighed, but didnít spare a glance at the other man who had been in the CPT the entire time that Goldman had given his report.
Anderson had remained silent. It had been obvious, at least to Carl, that Anderson had been there for the young lieutenantís sake. Even if Goldman hadnít realized it. Quiet and saying nothing, Anderson was the one solid thing in the tempest of Goldmanís shattered world.
Carl had been there when Anderson had located Myron for the first time since his return from the States. Had paused in the shade of one of the buildings on the way to his office and witnessed the reunion.
Myron, filthy and exhausted and just off of McKayís slick, was walking to his quarters, his mind a million miles away. Zeke was across the compound, watching, arms crossed across his chest. Nothing was spoken, the sergeant did not call out to his friend, yet something gave Myron pause. Caused him to hesitate and shake his head, blinking as if waking from a dream. It was how they found each other, eyes meeting.
Andersonís relief was plain to see. His friend was alive and all right.
But it had not been so easy with Goldman.
Zeke raised his head, blue eyes meeting those deep brown eyes, eyes that immediately darkened when they filled with surprise and then sorrow at his friendís return. It was there, clear as day in those bewildered depths: you shouldnít have come back- not because of me.
Thatís what Anderson had called it back in Saigon. Signed on for a fourth tour and said out loud it was because he felt he still wasnít done. Still had things to contribute.
What was unsaid between them was the real reason that Anderson had come back. Brewster considered the implications of such a friendship and briefly wondered if he would ever be worthy of that kind of loyalty. He realized it terrified Myron.
Brewster continued to stare out into the pouring rain, where Goldman had been only minutes before.
"If there wonít be anything else, sirÖ" Anderson trailed off.
There was little that Brewster missed in his camp. Very little. And from the moment the grieving young man and his unit arrived at Barnett, Brewster was very aware of Lieutenant Myron Goldman.
"Sir, if I can say so, when the L-T gets something in his head, he does not back down." Brewster looked up and met with the dark eyes of the one man that had any chance of reaching the young lieutenant. "He meant what he said, sir- heíll pursue this."
The colonel nodded and turned away from Anderson, crossing his arms across his chest as he stood just inside the tent. He could feel the spray of the rain but not get truly wet as he closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath of the heavy air. "This could get very ugly, Sergeant. He stands to lose a lot."
Not that he hasnít already.
"That hasnít stopped him before, sir."
Brewster looked over his shoulder, but not quite at Anderson. "I think itís safe to assume here, Sergeant, that Goldman gave you quite a run for your money when you first got him."
"Yessir." Zeke hesitated, and Brewster could feel the other manís gaze on his back. Could sense the sergeant weighing and considering his words in respect to the young man. "He was a right handful."
Brewster nodded before finally turning around and facing the other man. Anderson backed down from little, including the colonel. He met Carlís dark eyes without hesitation. The rain continued to spill down around them, drumming on the canvas of the tent over their heads. Pooling into larger and larger puddles and dripping unwanted through tears and weak spots in the fabric.
"There is a lot going on there, isnít there?"
Brewster did not miss the slightest shift in posture. Or the darkening of those eyes that still met his without fear or hesitation.
"Always has been, sir. But if you want to know what it is, youíll have to earn it from him- yourself." There was a hint of something in that voice and Brewster didnít miss it. "Itís real easy to assume things with him, sir. Even easier to make mistakes."
"And have you done that, Sergeant? Made mistakes in regard to Goldman?"
Now the other man glanced away, shifting his weight from foot to foot.
The enigma that was Lt. Goldman just got that much more interesting. Brewster loved a challenge. And Goldman, carefully watched out for by his men, by Anderson in particular, was a very intriguing challenge. But it was more than that. The colonel found he genuinely liked the younger man from the moment he came in with his sergeant, stiff and distant. And a shattered look in his dark eyes. He liked what he saw in Anderson as well.
In that brief first meeting, Brewster had seen a lot. And missed nothing. Something had happened between them, something that took place, Carl was sure, only moments before he had asked them to come in to his office. He couldnít mistake the friendship or how deep it ran. He had watched as Anderson stayed a careful step behind his lieutenant. Watched as something unnamed chased across Myronís dark eyes every time Anderson spoke up.
A mistake had been made then, in the moments they had been waiting outside of his office.
But whose mistake had it been?
"How is the lieutenant dealing with the death of his lover?"
That got him Andersonís full and undivided attention with a flash of warning in bright eyes that narrowed and a lifted chin. And if Anderson was being careful with his answers before, he was now that much more wary and guarded.
He did not reply to Brewsterís blunt question.
"Come now, Sergeant, I know all about Alex Devlin."
"Begging the Colonelís pardon, sir, but maybe you donít."
"Enlighten me then, Anderson." And Carl leaned casually back against the table, arms still crossed across his chest. The rain continued to spill off the edges of the tent, framing the colonel in a curtain of falling water.
"As I said earlier, sir. YOU are gonna have to earn that from him yourself."
"I think itís safe to say, Sergeant, that Goldman does not hand over anything of himself easily." To anyone.
"No, sir. Not even to himself."
That earned Anderson a raised eyebrow.
"Heís a damn fine soldier and officer, sir."
"I can see that. Goldman has your menís unqualified trust and loyalty. That is very admirable." Carl turned back and met Andersonís quiet eyes. "It doesnít change the fact that in my opinion, the lieutenant is NOT dealing with the death of his lover. And that is what worries me."
"He has to work that out for himself, sir."
Yet here you are, back from the States on a fourth tour. If Carl hadnít been closely watching Anderson, he would have missed the very subtle flinch. Zeke looked away and for the first time, walked across the tent to the far side and stared out into the rain.
"Unfinished business, I believe, is what you said, Sergeant."
Anderson looked back at him over his shoulder, eyes unreadable.
Carl knew he had been pushing Anderson. And as with so many things that concerned Goldman, he realized that maybe that had been a mistake. He nodded to himself and then walked over to Anderson. "Your friendship with Goldman is very rare. Heís fortunate to have you."
"I donít think the L-T feels the same way."
The regret was clear in Zekeís voice. And with those simple words Carl knew that Anderson had given him more insight into the relationship that was between these two men. A friendship that ran so deeply that it pulled one man back to a thankless war. It was the kind of friendship that another man, lost and struggling and in complete denial, could anchor himself in.
It was indeed the rarest of friendships that acknowledged that maybe one man should not have come back, but that he did it anyway. And thought nothing of it. It was a measure of the strength of the same friendship that it remained unspoken between them, yet accepted beyond any words possible.
"Give him time, Zeke."
"Itís all any of us can do right now, sir. "