The Green Room
(2006) 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.
"Early One May Morning"
By White Queen
Brockmeyer opened the front door and peered inside the darkened Green Room. It seemed empty, so he tiptoed inside, eased the door shut, and produced a flashlight. Shielding the light with one hand, he let it spill just enough illumination so he could make his way to the kitchen without running into any of the usual junk littering the room. He opened the icebox and pulled out a glass bottle of Coke and some leftover hot dogs, then closed it again. He had nearly reached the front door when someone spoke from the easy chair in the farthest corner of the room.
"You'd better never pull a stunt like that again," growled Sgt. Saunders.
Brockmeyer jumped and nearly dropped his load of goodies. "Aw, come on, Sarge," he pleaded, turning around. "There's plenty of leftovers from that bonfire cookout the fanfic writers threw at their foxhole last night. You won't miss a couple franks and a Coke. It gets hungry out there on sentry duty."
"That's not what I'm talking about." Saunders stood up and walked toward Brockmeyer. He stopped only inches from the brawny soldier, reached out to one side, and flipped the light switch.
Brockmeyer blinked in the sudden brightness. He threw one well-muscled arm up to shield his eyes from the glare.
"This is what I mean." Saunders gestured at Brockmeyer himself. "No shirt, no shoes and socks, no helmet. Just like last night." He lit up a cigarette, took a long drag, and added, "I suppose you thought it was funny, interrupting a story that way."
Brockmeyer struggled to hide a grin. "No, of course not."
"Just what were you thinking? Coming out barefoot, shirtless, looking like you just woke up...."
"Maybe I had. Maybe I was catching some quick shut-eye off-page. After all, I wasn't mentioned that early in the outline."
Saunders shook his head. "I think you were just looking for some extra attention. I expect that kind of thing from Kirby, but not you. You want to lobby for a story of your own, that's fine. But do it on your own time. White Queen was so thrown off track by you showing up looking like that, she didn't get any more work done. Wasted the whole rest of the night, wasted all of our time. And I won't have that, you understand?"
Brockmeyer nodded. "Yeah, I think I do understand. I think you're afraid I might start beating your time."
Saunders missed the twinkle in Brockmeyer's eyes, the telltale twitch at the corners of his mouth. "With White Queen?" he snorted. "Don't be ridiculous. I know that girl inside and out. She'd barely have given you a second glance if you hadn't looked like a fool."
At that point, both the door to the barracks and the door to the outside opened. "What's going on out here?" asked Kirby, yawning as he emerged from the barracks.
"Anybody home?" asked a British-accented, platinum-haired man from the front doorway.
Saunders ignored Kirby and looked the newcomer up and down. "Who are you?" he asked, suspiciously eyeing the stranger's odd hair and long black leather coat. "See, Brockmeyer? This is why we post sentries. So random characters can't just wander in here."
Kirby glanced at the newcomer. "Oh, hey, Spike." He yawned again and headed for the kitchen. "Why hasn't anyone started coffee yet?"
Saunders still eyed the stranger with suspicion. "Spike? What kind of a name is that?"
"The kind that makes the ladies sit up and take notice, mate." Spike stuck his thumbs in his belt loops and stepped all the way into the Green Room, letting the door swing shut behind him. "Got anything to eat around here?" he asked.
"Not for you," said Kirby as he measured water for the coffeemaker.
"Relax," Spike said. "I'm post-series-finale. Off the human stuff."
Saunders looked puzzled. "Who are you?" he asked again.
"Spike. The vampire, you know?"
"Vampire? And you and Kirby know each other how?"
Kirby chuckled. "Oh yeah, you two never shared page time, did ya. Remember that story White Queen did a couple years ago for the Memorial Day Challenge? Me an' Nelson an' Littlejohn an' Doc in a jeep, Doc got wounded, blah blah blah."
Saunders nodded. "I got a lot of shut-eye on that one -- very relaxing story."
"Yeah, for people that only showed up at the very end." Kirby pulled a mug out of the cupboard and peered inside to make sure it was clean. "Well, ol' Spike here added a bit of menace to the story."
"Sure did," Spike nodded, looking extremely pleased with himself. "Bloody lot of fun, that was. Got away from certain bossy characters from my own world, got to do a bit of showin' off."
Saunders shook his head. "I think you're makin' this up. No way would anyone put a vampire in one of our shows."
Brockmeyer laughed. "I thought you said you knew White Queen inside and out." He winked at Spike behind the sergeant's back.
Saunders glared at him. "I do."
Spike saw the wink, grinned at Saunders and gave a knowing nod. "Quite the girl, that White Queen."
Saunders moved toward Spike. "You know her?"
"Sure. She wrote me into a story, didn't she?" Spike sighed. "Boy, sometimes I wish I could get her as stuck on me as she is on Angel. Get her to write me my own story, like that noir bit she's doin' for him."
"White Queen? Writing a story for... who?" Saunders shook his head, as if that might help things make sense.
"Whom," Brockmeyer corrected him.
"Angel," answered Spike. "Guy my show's named after. Tall, broody vampire. My grandsire, if you must know." Spike shrugged. "Bit morose, I think, but she seems to go for that type."
"White Queen does?"
"Yeah. She spends a lot of time with him over in our little Green Crypt, 'discussing the plot'."
"Oh she does, does she?" Saunders crossed his arms and glowered at Spike. "No wonder she hasn't gotten anything done on our stories lately."
"Hey!" Spike raised his hands, pretending to surrender. "Don't blame me! I'm not the one sittin' in the dark corner of the Green Crypt planning ways to get her to write stories about me."
"I just might have to have a talk with this Angel person," said Saunders just as the barracks door opened again.
Out walked Billy Nelson. "I thought I heard someone mention Angel," he said, squinting in the glare of the overhead lights. "Oh, hey there, Spike."
"Bill! Good to see you." Spike gave a little wave. "How's it going?"
"Okay." Billy shrugged and wandered into the kitchen. "Hey, you makin' coffee?" he asked Kirby.
Littlejohn stumbled out from the barracks, his hair sticking up in seventy-two different directions. "I smell coffee?" he mumbled.
Kirby rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I'm making hot joe, and yeah, there's enough for everyone. We're out of Cream of Wheat though."
"We're out of Cream of Wheat because you ate it all," Littlejohn retorted.
"Get some more," Kirby shot back.
"Boy," said Spike, "this place is starting to sound like home."
Littlejohn turned away from Kirby. "Spike? Here? Why?"
Kirby poured two more cups of coffee, one for Billy and one for Littlejohn.
"Doesn't seem to be much for me to do in our new story yet, so thought I'd look up a few old pals," Spike explained.
Saunders was still frowning. "How long is this story you say White Queen is writing for you?"
"Not for me, mate," Spike corrected him. "For Angel. Dunno how long it'll be, probably like the last one. Only darker, and no crossover characters."
"You have something against crossover characters?" Billy asked.
"'Course not, been one myself."
"I just don't understand it," Saunders muttered. "She's got two of our stories to work on -- why's she starting one for someone else?"
"Maybe she likes Angel better than you," Spike suggested.
Saunders looked up, a dangerous glint in his eye. "Say that again?"
"Maybe she likes him better. She does have a soft spot for the broody types."
Brockmeyer nodded. "That's true -- we all know how addicted she is to those Byronic Heroes." He walked back over to the kitchenette and poured some of the fresh coffee into his canteen. He could have that with breakfast and save the Coke for later.
"Are you saying I'm not Byronic enough to keep her interested?" Saunders growled. He pushed away from the wall and took a step toward Spike.
"Got any crimes in your past you're trying to atone for?" Spike asked. Everyone else in the room suddenly got very quiet and pretended not to be listening.
"None you need to know about."
"That might be your problem."
Saunders looked like he wanted to commit a few crimes right then and there, but before he could the door to the barracks opened again. Out stepped Lt. Hanley, uniform crisp and hair sleek. "What's going on here?" he barked from one corner of his mouth, drawing his eyebrows down into a curvy vee.
Saunders whirled halfway around, stepping back a little so he could keep one eye on Spike and one on his superior.
Kirby swallowed his coffee and grinned. "I think they're about to have a duel over White Queen."
"Oh." Hanley nodded. "I see. Is that coffee fresh?"
"Yes, sir! Just made it myself." Kirby made a big show of getting out a new mug and wiping it clean before filling it with coffee.
"Thanks." Hanley smiled as he took the mug. After two long swallows, he turned back to the three men in the corner. "Now what's all this about White Queen?"
Saunders opened his mouth to answer, but Brockmeyer beat him to it. "Just a friendly misunderstanding, sir. Sergeant Saunders just found out she's been writing a story for some guy named Angel instead of spending time on our stories. We were just coming up with a few theories on why she might do that."
Spike let out what sounded like a giggle.
Hanley nodded. "I see. Saunders?"
The sergeant glowered at everyone in the room. "That's about the size of it, Lieutenant."
Hanley sighed. "Saunders, how often do I have to tell you that writers are an odd bunch. You never can tell when their attention will wander."
Saunders looked up at the ceiling and took a deep breath. "Yes, sir." His eyes lost some of their venomous glint.
"Now," Hanley said briskly. "I'm off to the waterfront, so I expect all of you to behave while I'm gone." He drained the rest of his coffee and headed toward the door.
"Going sailing again, sir?" asked Saunders, his grouchy mood still lingering.
"Yes, as a matter of fact. Dana, er, Mr. Andrews asked me to help him try out this new boat he's thinking of buying." Hanley paused, hand on the doorknob. "Do you have a problem with that, Sergeant?"
Saunders shook his head. "Of course not."
"Good." Hanley closed the door firmly behind him.
Brockmeyer shook his head. "Hey, Sarge, how come you don't yell at him for distracting authors?"
Saunders glared at Brockmeyer. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"If they didn't keep taking Thompson Girl on those boating trips of theirs, I bet she'd get a lot more done on that Reckoning story of hers."
"Boating?" Saunders shook his head. "I think you're imagining things. Thompson Girl hates water -- you can't get her anywhere near boats."
Kirby snickered. "Maybe you can't, but Andrews doesn't seem to have any trouble getting her aboard."
Saunders switched his glare from Brockmeyer to Kirby. "What do you know about it, anyway?"
"Nothing! I've just noticed that whenever the lieutenant heads off to the seaside, all work on Thompson Girl's stories comes to a screeching halt." Kirby poured himself another cup of coffee and looked over at Spike. "Hey, you want some of this before you leave? It's not blood, but it's hot and fresh."
"Don't mind if I do." Spike pulled a mug from the cupboard and let Kirby pour it full of the fragrant coffee. "Least it'll settle the rumblies 'til I can fill up on something else." He drained it in one long gulp.
Brockmeyer sidled toward the door, trying to look innocent and failing miserably. "Guess I'll be getting back on sentry duty."
Saunders nodded. "Guess you'll be staying there for a while too. Say, through your shift and Nelson's too?"
Brockmeyer groaned. "Yeah, yeah, okay."
"And when you show up on-page next time--"
"I'll be fully clothed, I promise." Brockmeyer made sure to close the door quietly as he left. No use angering Saunders some more.
Saunders rubbed his hands over his face, then up through his hair. "Pour me some of that coffee, Kirby," he said.
"Aw, sorry, Sarge. It's gone." Kirby held up the empty pot as proof. "Spike had the last of it."
"Then make some more," Saunders snapped, glaring at both Kirby and Spike. Maybe he should just go back to his bunk and start this whole day over again.
"Think I'll be headin' out too," said Spike. "Bet Angel doesn't know where White Queen spends her extra time--" he glanced at Saunders, "--or who she spends it with." He gave a rather evil chuckle and slammed the door behind him.
Kirby rinsed out the coffee pot and started measuring new grounds into a fresh filter. "There's always gotta be a troublemaker," he muttered.