The Green Room
(2012) No infringement upon the rightful owners of "Combat!" and the characters thereof, is intended. Any resemblance between real people and the characters in this story is purely coincidental and no insult is intended. This piece of fan fiction is for enjoyment only, and in no way will the author gain monetary profit from its existence.
"Au Clair de la Lune"
by White Queen
Hanley stepped inside the Green Room kitchen, closed the door, and leaned wearily back against it. He really needed to quit having these all-night strategizing sessions with Colonel Hogan and Captain Kirk. It was one thing to be prepared for the possibility of an alien attack or an invasion of sub-par guest characters. It was another to spend four hours wrangling over how to organize the spring sharp-shooting match.
Hanley looked around the kitchen and allowed himself a tired smile when he saw someone had left the Mr. Coffee half full. And still on, so the coffee wouldn't be stone cold. He got out the biggest mug he could find and filled it nearly to the brim. But when he took a sip, he grimaced. The coffee was bitter and burned. It must've been sitting there for hours. Still, he'd rather not wait for a new pot to brew. If Saunders could stand to drink mud, he could too.
He poured a quarter of his coffee down the drain, then opened the icebox, intending to add cream or milk or whatever he could find that would mellow out the black sludge. What he saw inside the icebox made him rub a hand over his face, figuring his tired eyes were playing tricks on him.
Doc came in from the main room just then. "There you are, Lieutenant," he said. "You mind handing me one of those bottles?"
Hanley pulled out what looked to be a baby bottle half full of milk and held it up. "These?"
"That's them." Doc reached for the bottle.
Hanley held it just out of reach. "Would you mind explaining why our icebox is full of… these?"
Doc stood on his tiptoes and grabbed the bottle. "In case the baby gets hungry. Which she has." With that, he returned to the main room, and Hanley could hear him say, "Here we go, just what the baby ordered."
Hanley shook his head, trying to clear it. Maybe something had gone bad in the endless hors d'oeuvres LeBeau had supplied, and he was having hallucinations.
But the sight that greeted him when he peered into the main room seemed real enough, no matter how fantastic. Caje and Kirby sat at the table, playing cards with a little boy. Littlejohn was crawling around the floor on his hands and knees, a blonde little girl perched on his back and giggling adorably while Billy followed to be sure she wouldn't fall off. And Saunders sat on the couch, a baby nestled in the crook of one arm while Doc gave him unnecessary advice about how to feed a baby a bottle.
Hanley's eyebrows rose slowly. He took a long drink of coffee and wondered if he'd stumbled into an alternate universe. One where they ran some sort of orphanage.
The little boy at the table shouted, "No, so go fish!" with such glee that Kirby and Caje laughed aloud.
Kirby looked up and spotted Hanley. "Hey, Lieutenant, wanna join us? I'm losing."
Hanley opened his mouth to reply, then shook his head and shut it again. He crossed to the couch and was about to ask Saunders what was going on when the front door opened. Grady Long and Braddock entered, Grady with a big crate of brown bottles and Braddock with two bulging paper bags.
Lunch time!" Braddock crowed, while at the same time, Grady yelled, "Root beer's here!"
The card game broke up, Billy plucked the little girl off Littlejohn's back, and everyone rushed toward the door. Hanley retreated to the kitchen, thinking he might leave altogether and try coming in again to see if the madness had dissipated.
But Saunders followed him, the baby over his shoulder as he gently patted its back. "Where you going, Hanley?" he asked. The baby burped loudly, and Saunders crooned, "Good girl," to her while he headed for the sink to rinse out the empty bottle.
"I don't really know," Hanley said. "What's going on here?"
Saunders turned away from the sink, face all innocence. "Here?" He jiggled the baby as she started to fuss a little.
"Here." Hanley put his mug down and folded his arms. "Since when are we babysitters?"
"Oh, we're just watching the kids while White Queen gets a little spring cleaning done." Saunders rubbed the baby's back, and she stopped fussing and snuggled under his chin. Which, Hanley noted, was uncharacteristically clean-shaven.
Hanley's eyes widened. "You are babysitting! What, she couldn't scrub her floors and dust her bookshelves while her husband's home to watch the kids? And it's only January. I'd hardly call all that snow out there spring-like."
Saunders shook his head. "She's not dusting and scrubbing at her house. she's cleaning up here."
Hanley frowned. "What, we're not doing a good enough job?"
"Not that kind of cleaning."
Before Saunders could elaborate, White Queen herself entered the kitchen, a big cardboard box in her arms. "There you are," she said to Saunders. "Ohhh, you got her to sleep. Thank you!"
In his sternest voice, Hanley said, "I think you need to explain yourself."
White Queen smiled. "Me?"
"What's in the box?"
White Queen opened it and tilted it toward Hanley so he could see the contents. "Two unfinished stories, two scrapped stories, and more rogue plot bunnies than I'd have thought possibly could hide under just a handful of bunks."
"Oh." Suddenly, Hanley understood. "You had your baby!"
White Queen and Saunders exchanged a Look. "You noticed," Saunders said dryly.
Hanley was suddenly all smiles. "I mean, now you can write again. Right?"
"Right." White Queen tapped the box. "I'll melt some of this down for scrap, release the plot bunnies into the wild for the other writers to use, and see what I can do with the unfinished stories. Finally."
"Well, in that case, is there any root beer left?" Hanley headed for the main room. He had a feeling they would all need all the energy they could get for the next few weeks. Or months. He might need to start some more coffee…